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HPV vaccine ‘substantially’ reduces cervical cancer risk: study

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination substantially lowered the risk of cervical cancer, especially when administered early, according to a new study.

Researchers in Sweden published their findings on Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, and said evidence was otherwise lacking on the issue.

The study found that those vaccinated before age 17 had an 88% lower risk of cervical cancer than those never vaccinated.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination substantially lowered the risk of <a data-cke-saved-href="https://www.foxnews.com/category/health/cancer/cervical-cancer" href="https://www.foxnews.com/category/health/cancer/cervical-cancer" target="_blank">cervical cancer</a>, especially when administered early, per a new study.<br data-cke-eol="1">
(iStock)

Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination substantially lowered the risk of <a data-cke-saved-href=”https://www.foxnews.com/category/health/cancer/cervical-cancer” href=”https://www.foxnews.com/category/health/cancer/cervical-cancer” target=”_blank”>cervical cancer</a>, especially when administered early, per a new study.<br data-cke-eol=”1″>
(iStock)

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“HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those with weakened immune systems may have more difficulty fighting the virus, which can lead to health issues like genital warts and cancers. The CDC recommends two doses of the HPV vaccine for boys and girls aged 11 to 12, though vaccination can start as young as age 9. Pushing off vaccination may result in needing three doses instead of two, the agency said.

The study followed nearly 1.7 million females ages 10 to 30 living in Sweden from 2006 through 2017 to find the association between HPV vaccination and the risk of cervical cancer. Among those vaccinated, 438,939, or 83%, started vaccination before age 17.

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Early vaccination is associated with lower risk of cervical cancer, per the study. (iStock)

Early vaccination is associated with lower risk of cervical cancer, per the study. (iStock)

Cervical cancer was diagnosed in 19 women who were vaccinated and 538 women who were not.

“Although the efficacy and effectiveness of the HPV vaccination against HPV infection, genital warts, and high-grade cervical lesions have been established, our results extend this knowledge base by showing that quadrivalent HPV vaccination is also associated with a substantially reduced risk of invasive cervical cancer, which is the ultimate intent of HPV vaccination programs,” study authors wrote.

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HPV Vaccination and Substantial Reduction in Cervical Cancer

Quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination was associated with a substantial reduction in the incidence of cervical cancer in a Swedish review of more than 1 million girls and women vaccinated from 2006–2017.

It’s been shown that the vaccine (Gardasil) helps prevent genital warts and high-grade cervical lesions, but until now, data on the ability of the vaccine to prevent cervical cancer, although widely assumed, had been lacking.

“Our results extend [the] knowledge base by showing that quadrivalent HPV vaccination is also associated with a substantially reduced risk of invasive cervical cancer, which is the ultimate intent of HPV vaccination program,” said investigators led by Jiayao Lei, PhD, a researcher in the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

The study was published online October 1 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

“This work provides evidence of actual cancer prevention,” commented Diane Harper, MD, an HPV expert and professor in the Departments of Family Medicine and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was the principal investigator on the original Gardasil trial.

This study “shows that the quadrivalent HPV vaccine provides prevention from the sexually transmitted HPV infection that actually reduces the incidence of cervical cancer in young women up to 30 years of age,” she said when approached for comment.

However, she also added a note of caution. These new results show “that vaccinated women still develop cervical cancer, but at a slower rate. This makes the connection between early-age vaccination and continued adult life screening incredibly important,” Harper told Medscape Medical News

Cervical cancer was diagnosed in 19 of the 527,871 women (0.004%) who had received at least one dose of the vaccine, vs 538 among the 1,145,112 women (0.05%) who had not.

The cumulative incidence was 47 cases per 100,000 vaccinated women and 94 cases per 100,000 unvaccinated women. The cervical cancer incidence rate ratio for the comparison of vaccinated vs unvaccinated women was 0.37 (95% CI, 0.21 – 0.57).

The risk reduction was even greater among women who had been vaccinated before the age of 17, with a cumulative incidence of four vs 54 cases per 100,000 for women vaccinated after age 17. The incidence rate ratio was 0.12 (95% CI, 0.00 – 0.34) for women who had been vaccinated before age 17, vs 0.47 (95% CI, 0.27 – 0.75) among those vaccinated from age of 17 to 30 years.

Overall, “the risk of cervical cancer among participants who had initiated vaccination before the age of 17 years was 88% lower than among those who had never been vaccinated,” the investigators noted.

These results “support the recommendation to administer quadrivalent HPV vaccine before exposure to HPV infection to achieve the most substantial benefit,” the investigators said.

Details of the Swedish Review

For their review, Lei and colleagues used several Swedish demographic and health registries to connect vaccination status to incident cervical cancers, using the personal identification numbers Sweden issues to residents.

Participants were followed starting

HPV vaccine protects against cancer, large study finds

The HPV vaccine substantially reduces a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer, especially in women who were immunized at a younger age, a large Swedish study found.

The risk of developing cervical cancer was reduced by 88 percent in women who had been vaccinated before age 17, and by 53 percent in those vaccinated between ages 17 and 30, according to the study of nearly 1.7 million girls and women that was published in Thursday’s issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

The researchers said the study is significant because while previous research has shown that the HPV vaccine can protect against the human papillomavirus infection, genital warts and cervical precancer, solid evidence that the vaccine actually prevented invasive cervical cancer was lacking.

“This is the first study to show that HPV vaccination protects against cervical cancer on the population level,” study author Par Sparen, a professor of medical epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said in an email to NBC News.

“The study reassures that HPV vaccination is protective against cervical cancer, and that vaccination at young age is important for good protection,” Sparen said.

Women who were vaccinated as younger girls likely had better protection because they were immunized before they were exposed to HPV through sexual activity, the researchers said.

Human papillomaviruses are a group of viruses that cause genital warts and most cases of cervical cancer. HPV also can cause cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus, penis and throat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that HPV causes nearly 35,000 cancer cases every year in women and men in the United States.

The study, which used nationwide registry data in Sweden, followed 1.7 million girls and women who were ages 10 to 30 between 2006 — the year the HPV vaccine was approved in that country — and 2017. Of them, 527,871 had received at least one dose of the vaccine during the study, most before age 17. Cervical cancer was diagnosed in 19 vaccinated women and 538 unvaccinated women during the study period.

The study is important because it “confirms what we know and also goes a step further,” Debbie Saslow, managing director of HPV and gynecological cancers at the American Cancer Society, said.

“We have really strong data that show that HPV vaccination prevents advanced cervical precancer, and all scientists in the world who work in cervical cancer agree that if you prevent advanced pre-cancer you prevent cancer, and that that is the accepted marker,” she said. “However, there are some critics and naysayers who say, ‘Yeah but show me that it prevents cancer,’ and this does that.”

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With the new paper, “we now have absolute numbers and data that say in the girls and young women who were vaccinated, they had very strong protection against cervical cancer, as compared to the women who weren’t vaccinated,” Saslow said.

The