Study Adds to Evidence That HPV Vaccine Helps Guard Against Cervical Cancer
Large population of Australian women were protected to some degree after vaccination, researchers report
The findings are published online March 4 in bmj.com.
"It's an important study," said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine (infectious diseases) and of public health at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. "They compared women with cervical disease and women without, and they found a significant protection rate, nearly a 50 percent reduction in risk in women vaccinated versus unvaccinated women."
Mutyala noted the study shows that in real life -- not just in a controlled research setting -- the vaccine has a significant impact on the health of women.
"The goal is to eradicate the HPV virus in our entire population, and the study actually shows the vaccine is working in Australia," Mutyala said. "It's decreasing those cellular level, microscopic-level abnormalities picked up on a Pap test."
In a separate study published last month in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Danish researchers reported that young women who received HPV vaccination had a much lower risk for precancerous lesions compared to those who weren't vaccinated.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15,000 cancers caused by HPV occur in women each year, and cervical cancer is the most common type. Approximately 7,000 cancers caused by HPV occur in men, with throat cancers the most common.
Two HPV vaccines are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended by CDC -- Cervarix and Gardasil. Mutyala said the vaccines are approved by the FDA for use in boys and girls aged 9 and up. He said only about one-third of girls in the United States are currently vaccinated, and only about 7 percent of boys.
Klausner said the United States should have better HPV public education and vaccination programs.
"It's shameful that in the United States, the richest country in the world, we can't vaccinate against cancer," said Klausner, who recently reviewed HPV vaccination in Rwanda, Africa, where the vaccination rate is 97 percent. "The vaccine works and it's safe."