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Large-Scale Trials Show HPV Vaccine Effective Against Multiple Strains, Could Reduce Need For Screening

“Using GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix vaccine to protect girls against the [human papillomavirus (HPV)] that causes cervical cancer is so effective that health authorities could reduce the need for later cervical screening,” according to two studies published Wednesday in the journal Lancet Oncology, Reuters reports. In a large efficacy trial involving 20,000 healthy women from 14 countries on four continents, researchers from the U.S. and Finland found the vaccine “‘offers excellent protection’ against two key strains of [HPV], particularly when given to young adolescent girls before they become sexually active” and “found the vaccine partially protects against several other cancer-causing HPV types that it is not specifically designed to target, giving protection against a group of strains that together cause about 85 percent of cervical cancer worldwide,” the news service writes.

Matti Lehtinen of the University of Tampere in Finland, who worked on the studies, said countries such as Finland, which have widespread vaccination campaigns, could “consider cutting cervical screening programs down to just a once-in-a-lifetime test at around the age of 25 to 30 to check the vaccine has been fully effective,” according to Reuters (Kelland, 11/8).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.