Fewer cervical cell anomalies were present on cervical cancer screens of young women who received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine through a school-based program.1
“Eight years after a school-based HPV vaccination program was initiated in Alberta [Canada], 3-dose HPV vaccination has demonstrated early benefits, particularly against high-grade cervical abnormalities, which are more likely to progress to cervical cancer,” reported Huiming Yang, MD, medical officer of health and medical director, Screening Programs, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Alberta has both a school-based HPV vaccination program that provides 3 doses of the vaccine and a population-based screening program for cervical cancer. The HPV vaccination program began in 2008 for girls in grade 5 (age 10-11 years) along with a 3-year catch-up program for girls in grade 9 (age 14-15 years). The program expanded to include boys in 2014.
Researchers examined data from the first cohort of 10,204 women in the study population. More than half of the study participants (56%) were unvaccinated, and 44% had received 1 or more doses of the HPV vaccine before being screened for cervical cancer. Of the women who had been vaccinated, 84% received 3 or more doses. Among the unvaccinated women, 16.1% had cervical abnormalities, compared with 11.8% in the fully vaccinated group.
The researchers noted that implementing effective HPV vaccination with broad uptake will affect the harms and benefits of cervical screening. They wrote, “With population-based HPV vaccination, guidelines for cervical cancer screening may need to include a later age for screening initiation and/or a longer interval between screenings.”
1. Kim J, Bell C, Sun M, et al. Effect of human papillomavirus vaccination on cervical cancer screening in Alberta. Can Med Assoc J. 2016 Jul 4. doi:10.1503/cmaj.151528. [Epub ahead of print]