HPV vaccine: jab could ward off cervical cancer in women with pre-cancerous cells, new study says

Many types of HPV affect the mouth, throat or genital area

Women who have pre-cancerous cells on their cervix might benefit from being given the HPV vaccine, a new study has suggested.

Girls and boys aged 12 to 13 are now routinely offered the human papillomavirus (HPV) jab. This helps prevent against cancers caused by the virus, including cervical cancer, anal cancer, and some head and neck cancers.

Women who have pre-cancerous cells on their cervix might benefit from being given the HPV vaccine, a new study has suggested

The vaccine was introduced in 2008 and people who were over the age of 13 before that date are not routinely offered the jab.

However, a new study has suggested that women who are found to have pre-cancerous cells on their cervix might benefit from receiving it.

Once a woman is identified as having high-grade pre-cancerous cells on her cervix she has a life-long risk of developing cervical cancer.

But new research, published in the BMJ, has suggested that having the jab might stop the lesions returning, as well as protecting against other cancers caused by HPV.

The study involved academics examining 18 previous studies on the topic, with the results showing that the risk of recurrence of “high-grade preinvasive disease” was reduced by 57% in individuals who were vaccinated alongside surgical treatment for cervical lesions, compared with those who were not vaccinated.

The findings were even stronger among women who were found to carry the strains of the virus most linked to cervical cancer.

However, the authors said more work is needed to confirm the findings.

The authors wrote: “HPV vaccination at the time of local excision… might lead to a reduction in the risk of recurrence of high-grade preinvasive disease.

“Large, appropriately powered randomised controlled trials are required to establish the effectiveness of HPV vaccination at the time of surgical treatment of cervical preinvasive disease.”