Women vaccinated against HPV (human papilloma virus) have a significantly lower risk of developing cervical cancer, and the positive effect is most pronounced for women vaccinated at a young age. That is according to results of a large study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published online on September 30, 2020 in the New England Journal of Medicine. The article is titled “HPV Vaccination and Risk of Invasive Cervical Cancer." “This is the first time that we, on a population level, are able to show that HPV vaccination is protective not only against cellular changes that can be precursors to cervical cancer, but also against actual invasive cervical cancer," says Jiayao Lei (at right in photo), PhD, researcher at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and the study's corresponding author. "It is something we have long suspected but that we are now able to show in a large national study linking HPV vaccination and development of cervical cancer at the individual level." HPV is a group of viruses that commonly causes genital warts and different types of cancer, including cervical cancer, a disease that globally kills more than 250,000 women a year. More than 100 countries have implemented national vaccination programs against HPV, and Sweden, as of August 2020, also includes boys in this program. Previous studies have shown that HPV vaccine protects against HVP infection, genital warts, and precancerous cervical lesions that could develop into cancer of the cervix. However, there is lack of large population-based studies that, on an individual level, have studied the link between HPV vaccine and so-called invasive cervical cancer, which is the most severe form of the disease.
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