HPV Vaccine Shown to Lower Cervical Abnormalities

Women who were vaccinated had 4.3% decreased risk of cervical abnormalities.

Women who received the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine through a school program had fewer cervical abnormalities compared with women who did not receive the vaccine, a recent study found.

"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," said Huiming Yang, MD, medical director of Screening Programs at Alberta Health Services, Calgary, Alberta.

Alberta has implemented a school-based HPV vaccination program and a population-based screening program for cervical cancer, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The program provides the 3-step vaccination against the 2 most common strains of HPV for girls as young as fifth grade, as well as boys.

Researchers examined data from 10,204 women who participated in both school programs, and were born between 1994 and 1997. Approximately 56% of patients were not vaccinated, and the remaining 44% had 1 or more doses of the vaccine.

They found that 14.5% of women had cervical anomalies detected during a Papanicolaou (Pap) test. The rest of the women (85.5%) were included in the control group since they did not have cervical abnormalities, according to the study.

In the women who had cervical anomalies, 93.5% had low-grade abnormalities and 6.5% had high-grade abnormalities. Among unvaccinated patients, 16.1% had cervical abnormalities, compared with 11.8% of patients who were vaccinated.

"With population-based HPV vaccination, guidelines for cervical cancer screening may need to include a later age for screening initiation age and/or a longer interval between screenings," the authors wrote.

Researchers hope that these findings will lead to improvements in cancer prevention and implementation of vaccination and cervical screening programs, the study concluded.