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HPV Vaccine Protects Against Vulval and Vaginal Cancers

Vaccine halves incidence of high-grade lesions caused by human papillomavirus

FRIDAY, May 18 (HealthDay News) -- In addition to offering protection against cervical cancer, the quadrivalent human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine also offers women protection against vulval and vaginal cancers, researchers report in the May 19 issue of The Lancet.

Jorma Paavonen, M.D., of the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, and colleagues conducted a study of 18,174 women, aged 16 to 26 years, who were randomized to receive three doses of either quadrivalent HPV6/11/16/18 vaccine or placebo, and who were then followed-up for a mean three years.

In terms of protection against high-grade vulval intraepithelial neoplasia and vaginal intraepithelial neoplasia associated with HPV16 and HPV18, the vaccine was 100 percent effective in women who were not infected with either of the strains during the six-month vaccination period and one month after. Efficacy was 71 percent in women with previous exposure to the virus strains and the vaccine conferred 49 percent protection against incidence of the two cancers regardless of the presence or absence of HPV DNA.

"The maximum effect of vaccination is expected in girls who are vaccinated in early adolescence, before exposure. The effect of vaccination in the general population of sexually experienced young women is expected to be lower initially, due to prevalent HPV infection," the authors conclude. "This intervention could greatly reduce the morbidity, mortality and health-care costs associated with these diseases."

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