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Feb 14, 2015 12:27 PM EST

HPV Vaccine Is Effective Against Multiple Cancer-Causing Strains

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The human papillomavirus vaccine, Cervarix, not only has the potential to prevent cervical cancer, it is also effective against other common cancer-causing stains, according to a recent study.

Researchers found that Cervavix was effective aside from just the two HPV types, 16 and 18, which are responsible for about 70 percent of all cases.

"The study confirms that targeting young adolescent girls before sexual debut for prophylactic HPV vaccination has a substantial impact on the incidence of high grade cervical abnormalities," researcher Dan Apter, Director, said in a statement.

(Photo : Collins et al)
Cervarix, not only has the potential to prevent cervical cancer, but was effective against other common cancer-causing human papillomaviruses, aside from just the two HPV types, 16 and 18, which are responsible for about 70 percent of all cases.

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from nearly 20,000 young women.

They found that the vaccine was extremely effective in young women who had never been infected with HPV. It protected nearly all from HPV-16 and -18, and protected 50 to 100 percent against different grades of precancerous transformation of cervical cells caused by other strains of HPV, including up to 100 percent of those with the immediate precursor grade to cancer. The women were followed for up to four years post-vaccination.

The vaccine was distinctly more effective among ages 15-17 than ages18-25, underscoring the value of vaccinating young adolescents, said Apter.

The study is the final report from the Papilloma Trial Against Cancer in Young Adults (PATRICIA), a multinational clinical trial encompassing 14 countries in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, North America, and Latin America, and it confirms previous reports in this trial. The over-all trial constituted the basis for approval of the Cervarix vaccine in Europe and the United States.

While the trial did not investigate the vaccine's efficacy in males, sexually transmitted HPV causes anogenital and head and neck cancers in both males and females. HPV-related head and neck cancers now number around 8,400 in the United States, annually.

 "The more adolescents are vaccinated, the closer we will be to eradicating high risk HPV viruses," Apter said. "So I think boys should also be vaccinated."

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women. In the United States, about 12,000 new cases, and 4,000 deaths occur annually, according to the SEER database of the National Cancer Institute.

The findings are detailed in the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.

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