Study reinforces HPV vaccine is saving lives

Researchers at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the University of Queensland have found young women who received the HPV vaccine are far less likely to develop high-risk abnormalities that can lead to cervical cancer.

They used Queensland Health datasets to show these women had a 46 % lower risk of developing high-grade changes in the cervix, compared with women who had not been vaccinated.

Cervical cancer is one of the most common causes of gynaecological cancer, killing more than 200 Australian women every year.

The majority of cervical cancer cases are caused by the Human Papillomavirus, a virus which – many years ago – Professor Ian Frazer AC set out to cure with a preventative vaccine. The ACRF is proud to have provided the seed-funding for Professor Frazer to develop this treatment, which is now shown to have incredible value through the national HPV vaccination program.

Study spokesperson, Professor Whiteman, said “We always knew the vaccine was safe and effective in the narrow, controlled environment of clinical trials. This significant study proves its “real world” value on a broad scale.”

“By preventing those cervical changes that are a precursor to cancer, the vaccination program saves lives and minimises future health expenditure.”

Australia was one of the first countries to roll out a vaccination program across the nation. It’s now being administered in over 100 countries.

Co-author and Medical Director of the National HPV Vaccination Program Register, Dr Julia Brotherton, said the research was great news for Australian women.

“And with the program now vaccinating boys as well, Australia is leading the way in preventing HPV infection and the cancers it can cause,” Dr Brotherton said .

However, it is still important for women to receive regular Pap tests as the vaccine can’t prevent all of the types of HPV that can cause problems.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.