HPV vaccine reduces the need for smear tests

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Women who have been given the HPV cervical cancer (HPV) vaccine may only need three cervical screenings in their lifetime, a study in England has said.

Since 2008, the HPV vaccine has been offered to schoolgirls aged 11-13 across the UK.

Reported cases of HPV have fallen sharply since then.

The team from Queen Mary University of London found that three screens at 30, 40 and 55 would offer the same benefit to vaccinated women as the 12 lifetime screens now offered in England.

'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.

More research is needed to understand the mechanism at play.

Find out about some of the issues women with learning disabilities face when they have a cervical screening test.

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According to scientists, the location of the IUD stimulates an immune response in the cervix, triggering the body to fight the human papilloma virus (HPV) is one of the key factors in the development of cervical cancer.

The new study is based on predictions of how the vaccine and screening will work best together.

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK said it was "great news" for women.

'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. Without HPV infection there would be nearly no cervical cancer.

She is very glad her seven-year-old daughter Maisie will be able to get innoculated and experience fewer screenings.

The eldest of those girls are now in their early 20s, close to the age for their first cervical screening invitation. The new programme called HPV primary testing is set to be introduced in England by December 2019. It should have a 90% success rate - up from 70% for the current vaccine.

The study also suggested that unvaccinated women should only need seven lifetime screens when the new screening test comes in, five fewer than is now standard.

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

"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'.

There is strong evidence of the beneficial impact of the HPV vaccine for women's health in countries that have had high uptake rates, and Minister for Health Simon Harris said recently that "this is a vaccine that can and is saving lives'".

Professor Anne Mackie, director of screening for Public Health England, said: 'The HPV vaccine is the most effective way for young girls to protect themselves against cervical cancer, the most common cancer in women under 35.

The NHS cervical screening programme invites women aged between 25 and 64 for cervical screening.

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