Cases of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) have dropped in the United Kingdom.
A U.K. government report revealed an 86 percent decrease of the two types of HPV which cause most cases of cervical cancer. Released on June 18, 2018, the report focused on a certain sector of England’s population.
But, this wasn’t the only recent good news for HPV prevention.
A study published on the same day from the University of Copenhagen found that the risk of severe dysplasia in women was reduced by 40 percent. The study compared the 1983 birth cohort, which was not offered HPV vaccination, with the 1993 cohort, the first to be offered the vaccine.
The U.K. surveillance data highlights a significant drop in infections of the strains HPV 16 and 18. The decreased occurred in women between the ages of 16 and 21 who were eligible to receive the vaccination as adolescents between 2010 and 2016. Because the numbers show a dramatic drop in HPV cases, researchers expect cervical cancer case numbers to follow suit.
Three other HPV strains also showed significant decreases in the same period of time. Despite not being included the current vaccination, HPV31, HPV33 and HPV45 saw a drop in cases.
The Public Health England press office states that this, “builds on existing evidence which suggests the vaccine also offers some cross-protection to unvaccinated women against related HPV types that can also cause cervical cancer.”
Focusing less on HPV strains and instead on severe dysplasia, the Denmark investigation also shows progress.
Healthline identifies that in cervical dysplasia “the abnormal cells are not cancerous but can develop into cancer if it is not caught early and treated.” Severe dysplasia would indicate a stage closer to cancer than mild dysplasia. A decrease in the risk of severe dysplasia should hopefully mean a drop in cervical cancer patient numbers as well.
It must be said that mild dysplasia numbers increased in comparison to previous rates. Unrelated to the vaccine, the rise in these cases appears to be the product of new equipment. Introduced in 2006, the equipment gave more sensitive, higher quality samples and as a result led to fewer inadequate samples.
The next step will be analyzing the tissue samples as they develop.
Like the U.K. findings, the University of Copenhagen believes that the conclusion of their study means fewer people will fall ill in the future.
These data sets may be specific to their respective countries of origin, but other nations should feel encouraged by the results. There are now numbers indicating that the HPV vaccine works effectively. We may have to wait for data from other countries, but we appear to have made progress in HPV prevention.
According to the CDC, every single year in the United States 700,000 women are diagnosed with either low grade cervical precancers or high grade cervical lesions. In that same span of time, 32,500 women and men are diagnosed with cancer caused by HPV infection.
Written for Passport Health by Katherine Meikle. Katherine is a freelance writer and proud first-generation British-American living in Florida, where she was born and raised. She has a passion for travel and a love of writing, which go hand-in-hand.