'Life-saving' cervical cancer vaccine could be rolled out to MORE women – are you eligible? | The Sun

'Life-saving' cervical cancer vaccine could be rolled out to MORE women – are you eligible? | The Sun

08/04/2022

MORE women could be offered a life saving vaccine which has been found to slash the risk of cervical cancer in those with precancerous cells.  

Kids aged 12 to 13 are routinely being offered the human papillomavirus (HPV), jab which helps prevent a host of cancers by up to 90 per cent.

These cancers include cervical cancer, anal cancer and some head and neck cancers.

The vaccine was first introduced in 2008 to children under 13, and has been shown to been be effective at preventing cervical cancer by up to 90 per cent.

Because of when the vaccine became available, most adults over 27 have not been offered the jab. 

However, a new study has found that women who have precancerous cells on their cervix could benefit from the vaccine.

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Women who develop precancerous cells or lesions on their cervix have a high chance of developing cervical cancer, even if the cells and lesions are removed through surgery. 

Researchers have found that giving women with precancerous cells the HPV vaccine alongside surgery for cervical lesions reduced their risk of more cervical cell changes by 57 per cent.

This compared with those who were given surgery but were not vaccinated. 

The findings, which were published in the BMJ, were even stronger among women who were found to carry the strains of the virus most linked to cervical cancer.

Eluned Hughes, head of information and engagement at Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said: “We are pleased to see emerging research into the value of using the HPV vaccine to prevent the recurrence of cervical cell changes, and look forward to seeing further large-scale studies into the effectiveness of this method.

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She also encouraged all women and other people with a cervix to attend their cervical screening and for young people to have the HPV vaccination when invited.

“These are the best tools we currently have to prevent cervical cancer,” she explained. 

What is HPV?

HPV is a common infection that can be easily passed on through skin-to-skin contact, including during sex.

There are hundreds of types of HPV. But only some are high-risk and can cause cancer.

Most people will get HPV at some point in their life and do not have any problems. The infection clears within around two years.

But in some people with the high-risk types, it could lead to either genital warts or abnormal changes in the cells that could become cancerous.

High-risk HPV types are the cause of around 99 per cent of cervical cancers. They also lead to cancer of the anus, penis, mouth and throat.

There are around 3,200 new cases of cervical cancer every year in the UK, with peak incidence in women in their early 30s.  

Cervical cancer takes the lives of 854 people a year currently.

But the HPV vaccine, which started being given out in 2008, is expected to slash cervical cancer cases and deaths. 

In the first 10 years of the rollout, the jabs have prevented an estimated 17,200 “pre-cancers” as well as 450 cancer cases in women in their 20s, according to research by King’s College London.

Experts also believe the huge success of the jab will see smear tests slowly phased out. 

Currently, people with a cervix need to have a smear test every three to five years to spot early signs of cervical cancer. 

If a school child misses their doses, you can speak to the school jab team or GP surgery to book as soon as possible.

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Anyone who missed their jab can get it up to their 25th birthday.

Read more on who can get a HPV vaccine here.

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