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HPV vaccine successful in reducing cervical cancer rates, research shows

The latest research shows the HPV vaccine rolled out to girls in Year 8 is making a real difference to cervical cancer rates.

The HPV vaccine which is given to teenagers in the UK ‘dramatically reduces cervical cancer rates’ by almost 90 per cent, according to a study by The Lancet and funded by Cancer Research UK.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is offered to girls aged 12 and 13, and the study said this, alongside smear tests, reduces cervical cancer risk almost entirely. This has prevented around 450 cervical cancers and around 17,200 cases of precancerous conditions over 11 years, Cancer Research UK said.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “It’s a historic moment to see the first study showing that the HPV vaccine has and will continue to protect thousands of women from developing cervical cancer.

“Cancer Research UK has been funding research in this area for many years and we’ve been eagerly awaiting these results since the introduction of the vaccination programme. Around 850 women die from cervical cancer each year in the UK, so we have the chance to save many lives.”

The charity said most cervical cancers are caused by HPV, and the vaccine protects against the strains of the virus which cause cancer.

Who can get the HPV vaccine?

In England, girls and boys aged 12 to 13 years are routinely offered the first HPV vaccination when they’re in Year 8. The second dose is offered six to 24 months after the first dose.

It’s important to have both doses of the vaccine to be properly protected, the NHS says.

If you’re eligible and missed the HPV vaccine in school Year 8, you can have it free on the NHS up until your 25th birthday.

Dr Vanessa Saliba, consultant epidemiologist for the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said:  “We encourage all who are eligible for the HPV vaccine to take it up when it is offered in school. All those eligible can catch-up until their 25th birthday. Together with cervical screening, this will help to protect more women from preventable cases of cervical cancer.”

Read more: Here’s what you need to know about the HPV vaccine



Bex Bastable
Bex Bastable
Bex is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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