The HPV vaccine program started in 2008 with GSK’s bivalent vaccine, Cervarix, which protects against the two most common types of HPV (types 16 and 18). Since September 2012, Merck’s quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil (against types 6, 11, 16 and 18) has been used instead.
Researchers from King’s College London found the program prevented around 450 cervical cancers and around 17,200 pre-cancers by the middle of 2019.
They also found cervical cancer rates were reduced by 62% in women offered vaccination between the ages of 14-16, and 34% in women aged of 16-18 when they were offered the jab.
The paper, published in The Lancet and funded by Cancer Research UK, looked at all cervical cancers diagnosed in England in women aged 20-64 between January 2006 and June 2019.
Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. Vaccines are most effective when administered before sexual activity when people are unlikely to have been exposed to HPV. The virus is linked to other cancers including vaginal, vulval, anal, penile and some head and neck cancers.