A new study on the effects of the national vaccination programme in England on cervical cancer and grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia incidence was published by The Lancet on 3 November, 2021. 

According to Reuters, young women who were vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) in their teenage years with an older GlaxoSmithKline product called Cervarix had up to an 87% lower risk of developing cervical cancer linked to the virus. 

When the vaccinated women reached their twenties, those who had received the series of shots between ages 12 and 13 had cervical cancer rates that were 87% lower than unvaccinated women who had been screened for the malignancy.  

The HPV vaccine can only prevent infection. It cannot rid the body of the virus once it has been caught. The viruses are so widespread that immunisation must be aimed at children before they become sexually active. 

HPV is a sexually transmitted virus with around 140 various strains. There are low-risk HPV types which are not carcinogenic but can cause genital warts. High-risk HPV types including types 16 and 18 are linked to the development of several cancers and in particular to cervical cancer. 

The latest study looked at what occurred after the vaccine was introduced for girls in England in 2008. Professor Peter Sasieni, a researcher at King’s College London, said “the impact has been huge”.  Overall, the study estimated the HPV programme has prevented about 450 cancers and 17,200 pre-cancers. 

Interestingly, the reductions were less substantial when older teenagers were immunised as part of a catch-up campaign. This is because fewer older teenagers decided to have the jab and were possibly already sexually active. 

London-based charity, Cancer Research UK, funded the study. Sophia Lowes, health information manager, said “this is really exciting as it’s the first time we’ve been able to see the real-world impact of the United Kingdom’s vaccination program”. 

The study has provided some well-needed good news for global health. However, it is important that both men and women should continue to be vigilant about early detection and treatment of Genital Warts/HPV. Less than a decade ago, the actor Michael Douglas who developed throat cancer, revealed that “his illness was the result of contracting human papillomavirus (HPV), which experts believe can be brought on by cunnilingus”.  

Mr. Douglas is one of many people who have spoken about HPV, but it is key to remember that even with scientific advances HPV remains a continuing threat to our health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on their website that “HPV is so common that nearly all sexually active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives”.  

Book your HPV Test 

Early detection is a crucial factor in the successful treatment of cervical cancer. Better2Know offers a number of tests for HPV and genital warts, including a combined PAP smear and HPV test which is taken at the same time. This is the most comprehensive cervical screen available.  

For men, the standard HPV test is a swab of a visible wart or lesion. Your Better2Know advisor will help you to determine the appropriate site (visible wart, urethra, or anus) for sampling. 

To arrange an appointment at a clinic near you, simply phone our well-trained sexual health advisors on the number at the top of the page or book online

We also provide a vaginal swab home test kit for those who would like to test for high-risk types of HPV at home. This test can be a replacement for a PAP smear, so as long as you have no symptoms and have not had an HPV infection in the past, the Better2Know HPV test can be right for you.

In addition, we offer a home test kit which can detect low-risk types of HPV, suitable if you have a suspected wart that you can swab yourself. 


[1] Reuters: Older HPV vaccine cuts cervical cancer rate up to 87%

[2] BBC News: HPV vaccine cutting cervical cancer by nearly 90%

[3] The Guardian: Michael Douglas: I was sorry for effect of oral sex cancer comments on my wife

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