Cervical cancer vaccine backed

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 25, 2005

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A vaccine against the virus that causes cervical cancer and genital warts could reduce persistent infection and disease by 90%, suggest the results of a randomized trial published online April 6 in The Lancet Oncology. Up to 70% of sexually active women will become infected with human papillomavirus during their lifetime, and the virus causes about 470,000 cases of cervical cancer each year. Although most cases of cervical cancer occur in the developing world, where cervical screening programs have not been implemented, about 35,000 women die from the disease every year in Europe and the United States.

The trial tested the effectiveness of a vaccine that targets the HPV types-associated with 70% of cervical cancers and 90% of genital warts. The investigators assigned 277 women to the vaccine and 275 women to a placebo. They all received three intramuscular injections and were followed for 36 months.

The incidence of persistent infection or disease with HPV types 6, 11, 16 or 18 fell by 90% in those given the vaccine. The vaccine was 100% effective against precancerous cervical lesions and genital warts associated with the four HPV types. There were no serious adverse events, the researchers said.

They suggest that universal HPV vaccination implemented in 10- to 13-year-olds could be most effective.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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