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Can HPV vaccine reduce Pap tests?

‘This is great news for women. The cervical screening programme is already very successful’

IANS | London |

Women vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) can be effectively protected from cervical cancer with merely three pap test in their lifetime, suggests a new research.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women living in less developed regions with an estimated 445,000 new cases in 2012 (84 per cent of the new cases worldwide), according to the World Health Organisation.

According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, 11 to 12-years-old should receive two doses of the HPV vaccine at least six months apart, before they become sexually active, who are then recommended to be screened (Pap Test) every three years.

The findings showed three screens at 30, 40 and 55 would offer same would offer the same protection from the cervical cancer to vaccinated women.

“This is great news for women. The cervical screening programme is already very successful, and has led to a dramatic fall in deaths from the disease since its introduction,” said Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK.

“While we hope to see these improvements to the screening programme in the future, it’s important that women continue to take up invitations for cervical screening,” Sharp added, in the paper published in the International Journal of Cancer.

Pap testing involves checking for abnormal cells within the cervix that could, if undetected and untreated, develop into cervical cancer.

The current HPV vaccine protects women against the most dangerous forms of HPV significantly reducing the chance of developing cervical cancer.

Thus, as the risk of cervical cancer is considerably reduced, the study suggests that the number of screens should be decreased accordingly, avoiding unnecessary procedures for women.

Unvaccinated women should only need seven lifetime screens when the new screening test comes in, five fewer than is currently standard, the study suggested.