Date Published: 7 July 2011

HPV vaccine and the need for cervical cancer screening

Health News from Bristol, England (UK).
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Some girls and their parents mistakenly believe the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination makes future cervical cancer screening unnecessary, according to a recent study from Oxford University (England) reported at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Society of Academic Primary Care, hosted this year by the Academic Unit of Primary Health Care, Bristol University.

The HPV vaccination programme, introduced in the UK in 2008, uses HPV vaccine that is effective against the two most common high risk HPV types (16 and 18), and is said to offer 70% protection against cervical cancer. However, vaccinated girls are nevertheless still being advised to attend cervical screening in the future to ensure protection against cervical cancer caused by high risk HPV types not included in the vaccine.

Dr Alison Clements and colleagues interviewed parents and vaccination-aged girls about their understanding of the HPV vaccination in relation to vaccine acceptance, and potential future cervical cancer screening behaviour. The research team found a lack of clarity amongst both parents and girls about the link between the HPV vaccine and the need for future cervical screening. Worryingly, in some cases parental consent for their daughters to receive the vaccine was based on the false belief that cervical screening would not be necessary. There was also a profound lack of awareness about cervical screening amongst girls of vaccination age.






Hazel Nunn, Cancer Research UK's senior health information manager, said:

" This is a helpful reminder that renewed efforts are needed to inform girls and their families about the importance of cervical screening in those who have had the HPV vaccination. While the vaccine is very effective at protecting against the two strains of virus which cause most cases of cervical cancer, and one of the biggest steps forward in public health in recent years, it does not protect against all the other strains so the disease can still develop.
_ Cervical screening can prevent around 34% of cervical cancers in women in their 30s, rising to 75% in women in their 50s and 60s. Women should be reminded of the crucial role of screening in the fight against cervical cancer.

Research Paper
"A false sense of security?" Understanding the role of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine on future cervical cancer screening behaviour - a qualitative study of UK parents and girls of vaccination age by Alison Clements, Lorna Henderson, Joan Austoker, Clare Wilkinson and Sue Wilson.

Source: Bristol University, England (UK)

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