Women who have HPV vaccine may need fewer cervical screenings


HPV is thought to cause almost all cervical cancers and a vaccination against it has been offered to girls in the United Kingdom aged 11 to 13 since 2008.

Testing for HPV first will be rolled out into the English cervical screening programme over the next two years. Cervical cancer kills about 270,000 women a year, according to the World Health Organisation.

The Cancer Research UK-funded team at Queen Mary University of London said that cutting the number of screenings for vaccinated women could save the national health services' time and money.

It is now being rolled out across the NHS, and by December 2019 all women in England will be able to get it.

In the United Kingdom, women are invited for screening between the ages of 25 and 64, every few years.

They found that those who received the vaccine would only need three smear tests in their lifetimes, with screening tests at ages 30, 40 and 55 preventing an additional 2.8% of cervical cancers.

At the moment, labs test for abnormalities in cells taken in a smear test but the new tests will check for the presence of HPV first and only check for abnormal cells if the virus is found.

The HPV vaccine works best if girls get it before they come into contact with HPV - in other words, before they become sexually active. Using a computer model, it looked at cancer incidence and the protection given by the vaccine.

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The risk of cervical cancer in women with IUDs was one-third lower than women without them, said the review in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, which included 16 previous studies spanning more than 12,000 women around the globe.

The study also suggested that unvaccinated women should only need seven lifetime screens when the new screening test comes in, five fewer than is now standard.

During the project, the US researchers analyzed data from 16 large studies that involved more than 12 thousand women from different countries of the world.

They also noted that the screening interval for unvaccinated women could be safely lengthened, finding that this patient group would need just seven smear tests in their lifetime.

Professor Peter Sasieni, lead author based at QMUL, said: 'The NHS should benefit from the investment that it's made by introducing the vaccination programme. The change in the screening system is a unique opportunity to reassess how often women are invited for cervical screens during their lifetimes'.

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'The cervical screening programme is already very successful, and has led to a dramatic fall in deaths from the disease since its introduction'.

'However, we must continue to focus on increasing uptake of the vaccination and screening programmes to ensure more women are able to benefit from these advances.