HPV vaccination crucial to reducing cervical cancer, says study

States in the US which have a higher rate of HPV vaccination have a lower rate of cervical cancer

By Jyotsna Singh
Published: Thursday 13 November 2014

Photo courtesy: Steven Depolo/Flickr

A study conducted in the United States has shown a connection between vaccination for human papillomavirus (HPV) and cases of cervical cancer. US states that had high vaccination rates for HPV reported fewer cases of cervical cancer and deaths from the disease.

The study, carried out by the University of North Carolina, was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) conference this week. It showed that HPV vaccination—which can protect against cervical, anal, vaginal, and vulvar cancers—was lower among girls living in states with higher cervical cancer mortality rates and vice versa.

For example, about 6 per 100,000 women develop cervical cancer each year in Massachusetts where 69 per cent of teenage girls have been vaccinated for HPV. States like Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansas show the opposite trend. In Arkansas, the cervical cancer rate is 10 per 100,000 women and the vaccination rate is lower, at 41 per cent.

Overall, northeastern states like Rhode Islands and Vermont had high vaccination rates and low rates of cervical cancer.

“These states could really use some interventions to increase the rates of HPV vaccination now and, hopefully, there will be big dividends in the coming decades in terms of cancer mortality,” said Jennifer Moss, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health in Chapel Hill.

The researchers, however, could not draw a causal link between the two and hence, cannot say for sure that vaccination rates are directly linked to the cervical cancer rates in a given population. They did note that the quality of preventive healthcare in each state was a strong determinant in whether young girls were vaccinated.

Question raised in Rajya Sabha on high rate of cervical cancer in India, 12/08/2014

Cancer mortality in India: a nationally representative survey

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