HPV jab reduces number of smear tests needed over lifetime

Researchers say three cervical screenings could offer same benefit to women given the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine as the 12 currently offered. | International Journal of Cancer | Cancer Research UK

Women who have been given the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine may only need three cervical screenings in their lifetime, a study has said. Researchers found that smear tests at the ages of 30, 40 and 55 could offer the same benefit to vaccinated women as the 12 currently offered.

The results are based on how the HPV vaccine and the improved cervical screening programme will work best together. The new programme called HPV primary testing is set to be introduced in England by December 2019. It means that cervical samples are tested for HPV but only checked for abnormal cells if the virus is found. The current test checks for abnormalities first, which is less efficient.

The Cancer Research UK-funded team at Queen Mary University of London said that cutting the number of screenings for vaccinated women could save the NHS time and money.

Full reference: Landy et al. |What cervical screening is appropriate for women who have been vaccinated against high risk HPV? A simulation study. | International Journal of Cancer

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