HPV jab means women only need 3 cervical screens in a lifetime

November 10, 2017, Cancer Research UK
Electron micrograph of a negatively stained human papilloma virus (HPV) which occurs in human warts. Credit: public domain

Women may only need three cervical screens in their lifetime if they have been given the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Cancer today (Friday).

The Cancer Research UK-funded team from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), found that three screens at 30, 40 and 55 would offer the same benefit to vaccinated women as the 12 lifetime screens currently offered in England.

The results are based on how the HPV vaccine and the improved cervical programme will work best together. The new programme called HPV primary testing is set to be introduced in England by December 2019. It means that cervical samples are tested for HPV but only checked for abnormal cells if the virus is found. The current test checks for abnormalities first, which is less efficient.

Scotland and Wales are also preparing their own plans to introduce this new HPV test.

Since 2008, the HPV vaccine has been offered to schoolgirls aged 11-13 across the UK. This group is now reaching the age for their first cervical screening invitation. This new research shows that these women can still be effectively protected from with fewer screens, which could also save the NHS resources.

Professor Peter Sasieni, Cancer Research UK's screening expert and lead author based at QMUL, said: "The NHS should benefit from the investment that it's made by introducing the vaccination programme. These women are far less likely to develop cervical so they don't need such stringent routine checking as those at a higher risk. This decision would free up resources for where they are needed most. The change in the screening system is a unique opportunity to reassess how often women are invited for cervical screens during their lifetimes."

HPV infects most people at some point. Most infections go away on their own, but if an infection is not cleared it can go on to cause cervical cancer. Without HPV infection there would be almost no cervical cancer.

The current HPV vaccine protects women against the most dangerous forms of HPV significantly reducing the chance of developing cervical cancer. As the risk of cervical cancer is considerably reduced, the study suggests that the number of screens should be decreased accordingly, avoiding unnecessary procedures for women.

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

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK said: "This is great news for women. The cervical screening programme is already very successful, and has led to a dramatic fall in deaths from the disease since its introduction. While we hope to see these improvements to the screening programme in the future, it's important that continue to take up invitations for cervical screening. So if you're all set for your next screen, keep that appointment."

Explore further: More than two-thirds of cervical cancer deaths prevented by screening

More information: Rebecca Landy et al, What cervical screening is appropriate for women who have been vaccinated against high risk HPV? a simulation study, International Journal of Cancer (2017). DOI: 10.1002/ijc.31094

Related Stories

More than two-thirds of cervical cancer deaths prevented by screening

September 19, 2016
Cervical screening prevents 70 per cent of cervical cancer deaths and if all eligible women regularly attended screening this would rise to 83 per cent, according to research led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Screening, HPV vaccine can prevent cervical cancer: FDA

February 8, 2017
(HealthDay)—Women can reduce their risk of cervical cancer through vaccination and screening, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Previous screening results important for decision about smear tests after age 60

October 25, 2017
Being screened again after the age of 60 reduces the risk of cervical cancer in women who have previously had abnormal smear tests and in women who did not have smear tests in their 50s, researchers at Karolinska Institutet ...

Vaccination produces huge drop in early cervical cancer signs

October 4, 2017
The number of young Scottish women showing early signs of potential cervical cancer have almost halved since the introduction of a school vaccination programme.

How have HPV vaccines affected cervical cancer screening?

June 7, 2017
A new review looks at cervical cancer screening in the era of HPV vaccination. The review notes that trials have demonstrated the efficacy and safety of vaccines against HPV infection, but the complete effect of HPV vaccination ...

Age matters when it comes to screening for cervical cancer

September 12, 2017
Getting checked for cervical cancer isn't one-size-fits-all. Draft guidelines released Tuesday show age makes a difference.

Recommended for you

Stem cell vaccine immunizes lab mice against multiple cancers

February 15, 2018
Stanford University researchers report that injecting mice with inactivated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) launched a strong immune response against breast, lung, and skin cancers. The vaccine also prevented relapses ...

Induced pluripotent stem cells could serve as cancer vaccine, researchers say

February 15, 2018
Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, are a keystone of regenerative medicine. Outside the body, they can be coaxed to become many different types of cells and tissues that can help repair damage due to trauma or ...

Team paves the way to the use of immunotherapy to treat aggressive colon tumors

February 15, 2018
In a short space of time, immunotherapy against cancer cells has become a powerful approach to treat cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer. However, to date, most colon tumours appeared to be unresponsive to this kind ...

Can our genes help predict how women respond to ovarian cancer treatment?

February 15, 2018
Research has identified gene variants that play a significant role in how women with ovarian cancer process chemotherapy.

First comparison of common breast cancer tests finds varied accuracy of predictions

February 15, 2018
Commercially-available prognostic breast cancer tests show significant variation in their abilities to predict disease recurrence, according to a study led by Queen Mary University of London of nearly 800 postmenopausal women.

Catching up to brain cancer: Researchers develop accurate model of how aggressive cancer cells move and spread

February 15, 2018
A brief chat at a Faculty Senate meeting put two University of Delaware researchers onto an idea that could be of great value to cancer researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.