Health Care

HPV vaccination 'will reduce number of smear tests'

HPV vaccination 'will reduce number of smear tests'”

Women who get intrauterine devices fitted appear to face a dramatically lower risk of getting cervical cancer, the third-most common cancer in women worldwide, U.S. researchers said this week.

The study says that when the new HPV testing first comes in, unvaccinated women should only need seven screenings in their lifetime, instead of 12.

Experts on the UK National Screening Committee are now reviewing the frequency at which women have to undergo the tests for cervical cancer.

Their new study suggested these women could still be effectively protected from cancer with fewer smear tests, following both HPV vaccination and the introduction of improved screening. Up to age 49 women receive invitations every 3 years, and after 50 women receive invitations every 5 years.

A new programme named HPV primary testing is set to be introduced in England by December 2019.

Reported cases of HPV have fallen sharply since then.

It is now being rolled out across the NHS, and by December 2019 all women in England will be able to get it. After that, they are invited every five years until 64.

Vaccination against the most risky types of HPV was introduced for girls aged 11-13 in 2008.

The researchers highlighted that the initial cohort vaccinated under the immunisation programme was now reaching the age of their first cervical screening invite.

Researchers say three cervical screens at 30, 40 and 55 offers the same benefit to vaccinated women as the 12 now offered.

Professor Peter Sasieni, Cancer Research UK's screening expert and lead author of the study, said: "These women are far less likely to develop cervical cancer so they don't need such stringent routine checking as those at a higher risk".

"This decision would free up resources for where they are needed most".

The findings are published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK added: 'This is great news for women.

The vaccine for HPV protects women against the most risky forms of the virus - which will infect most people at some point - and significantly reduces the chance of developing cervical cancer.

'Around 3,000 cases are diagnosed every year in the United Kingdom and tragically it causes 900 deaths, nearly all in older women who did not benefit from the HPV vaccination programme.

At present, NHS cervical screening programmes invite women aged 25 to 64 for screening.

Cervical cancer kills about 270,000 women a year, according to the World Health Organisation.

As of March 2017, 72% of eligible women were screened within the recommended timeframe, compared to 75.7% in 2011.

'However, we must continue to focus on increasing uptake of the vaccination and screening programmes to ensure more women are able to benefit from these advances.

Robert Music, from charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "We would urge the government to use any savings made as a result of reduced screening intervals to fund a national cervical screening awareness campaign".

'Screening attendance is falling across the United Kingdom and in England is now at 20-year low'.

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