The human papilloma-virus (HPV) vaccine, which was introduced to Denmark is 2006 as a preventative measure against cervical cancer, is working as intended, according to a new report.
The report, which was based on research carried out by Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen and cancer fighting organisation Kræftens Bekæmpelse, showed that there was a significant reduction in the number of preliminary stage cervical cancer cases among vaccinated women born between 1989 and 1999 nationwide, compared to those unvaccinated.
“Our research showed a reduction of between 40 and 80 percent in cases of preliminary stage cervical cancer among vaccinated women compared to unvaccinated women,” Susanne Krüger Kjær, a doctor from Kræftens Bekæmpelse and Rigshospitalet and the co-author of the research, told science website Videnskab.dk. “We have to assume that it also applies to developing the illness at a later stage.”
About 400 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in Denmark every year – a number that has been reduced in recent years thanks to a national screening programme.
“What’s unique about Denmark in this situation is that we have been very quick to nationally introduce the HPV vaccine. That allows us to produce such thorough research of the effect of the HPV vaccine so early on,” Kjær said.
One issue about the vaccine is that it doesn’t cover all types of HPV. While the vaccine does work against the four most common virus HPV types in Europe, over 100 forms of HPV exist – 40 of which are capable of being transmitted sexually. At least 12 forms of HPV can cause cancer.
The research is the first of its kind in the world and the results have been published in the scientific journal, Journal of the National Cancer Institute (in English).