Just one dose of the human papillomavirus vaccine might be enough to prevent precancerous cervical lesions, a new study suggests.
Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is sexually transmitted and is named for the warts (papillomas) some HPV types can cause, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne compared cervical screening outcomes of 250,000 Australian women. The comparison found that girls who received the HPV vaccine when young were less likely to have the precancerous lesions.
Lead author Julia Brotherton from the VCS Foundation and the University of Melbourne said this data adds to other evidence starting to emerge that one dose of the HPV vaccine may prove to be sufficient for protection against cervical cancer.
According to the CDC, about 14 million people — male and female — are infected with HPV each year, and most never know it. About 12,000 women are diagnosed with and about 4,000 women die from cervical cancer caused by certain HPV viruses. HPV viruses are also associated with several other forms of cancer affecting men and women.
The CDC recommends all kids ages 11 or 12 get vaccinated, with catch-up vaccines for boys and men through age 21 and for girls and women through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger. The vaccination consists of two or three doses of the vaccine.
“If one dose vaccination proves to be enough, it will really simplify our ability to protect more people against these cancer-causing viruses,” Brotherton said in a statement.
“That could make a huge difference, especially in less well-resourced countries that currently have high rates of cervical cancer but can’t currently afford vaccination or screening.”
She cautioned, however, that young people should continue the two dose course until the results of formal trial are in and the recommendations are changed.
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