Human papillomavirus (HPV) infections declined substantially since vaccination was introduced, reveals a study published in The Lancet.
According to the study, the cases of the two types of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancers, HPV 16 and 18, plummeted 83% among girls ages 13 to 19 and 66% in women ages 20 to 24.
Diagnoses of precancerous cervical lesions, which can develop into cancer, decreased 51% among screened girls ages 15 to 19 and 31% among screened women 20 to 24, researchers said.
Researchers analyzed data from 14 high-income countries, covering more than 60 million people over eight years.
The WHO supported study provides “strong evidence” that the HPV vaccine prevents cervical cancer, researchers said.
“Our results provide strong evidence that HPV vaccination works to prevent cervical cancer in real-world settings as both HPV infections that cause most cervical cancers and precancerous cervical lesions are decreasing,” said Melanie Drolet, a senior research associate at Laval University and one of the study’s authors, in a statement.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is now a well-established cause of cervical cancer and there is growing evidence of HPV being a relevant factor in other anogenital cancers (anus, vulva, vagina and penis) as well as head and neck cancers. HPV types 16 and 18 are responsible for about 70% of all cervical cancer cases worldwide.
Three vaccines are currently available to protect against HPV, particularly the cancer-causing types, reports said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends both girls and boys receive the vaccine at age 11 or 12.
The study also identified a 67% decrease in anogenital wart diagnoses among girls between 15 and 19 and a 31% decrease among women between 25 and 29. They also saw a 48% decrease in boys 15 to 19 and a 32% decrease in men 20 to 24.
“Because of our finding, we believe the WHO call for action to eliminate cervical cancer may be possible in many countries if sufficient vaccination coverage can be achieved,” says Marc Brisson, Professor at Canada’s Laval University and author of the study.