England’s human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination program has drastically cut down the rate of cervical cancer and grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN3) in young women, by 87% and 97%, respectively, for girls born since Sept. 1, 1995, researchers found.
The HPV immunization program in England first rolled out on Sept. 1, 2008, with the goal of preventing persistent infections from HPV types 16 and 18, which are responsible for around 80% of all cervical cancers in the U.K., Peter Sasieni, PhD, of Guy’s Cancer Center at Guy’s Hospital in Great Maze Pond, London, and colleagues explained in The Lancet.
Routine three-dose vaccinations with a bivalent vaccine (Cervarix) were offered to girls ages 12-13 years (school year 8 in the U.K.), and catch-up services were available for girls ages 14-18 years. As a result, annual three-dose HPV vaccine coverage in the U.K. from 2008-2012 was quite high for girls ages 12-13 (range 80.9-88.0%) but lower for the older age groups (70.8-75.7% for ages 14-16; 38.9-48.1% for ages 16-18).
Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by viruses, and the hope is vaccination could almost eliminate the disease.
The researchers said the success meant those who were vaccinated may need far fewer cervical smear tests too.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women around the world, killing more than 300,000 each year.
Almost nine-in-10 deaths are in low- and middle-income countries where there is little access to cervical cancer screening.
More than 100 countries have starting using the vaccine as part of World Health Organization plans to get close to eliminating cervical cancer..
In the UK, girls are offered the vaccine between the ages of 11 and 13, depending on where they live. While boys have been offered the vaccine since 2019.