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Improved HPV vaccine uptake could prevent 200 cervical cancer cases every year

Around 200 cases of cervical cancer and 90 deaths from the disease could be prevented each year if uptake of the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine was increased in every region to just ten per cent more than the current national average, according to research (1) presented at the Public Health England conference in Warwick.

Since 2009, girls aged 12 and 13 have been offered the HPV vaccine, which can help to protect them from developing pre-cancerous cells and cervical cancer.

The proportion of girls taking up the vaccine across England stands at 86 per cent, but there is wide regional variation with uptake in some parts of the country as low as 62 per cent and as high as 96 per cent in others.

If uptake of the vaccine in below-average regions increased to match the uptake seen on average nationally, the research suggests that 649 cases of CIN2 /3 – pre-cancerous cells that need treatment – could be prevented, as well as 51 cervical cancer cases and 22 deaths from the disease annually.

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However, if uptake across the whole of England reached 96 per cent, the impact would be even more marked. The study authors say 2,528 cases of CIN2/3, 198 cervical cancer cases and 87 deaths could be prevented each year.

Dr Michael England, medical director for vaccines at GSK, said: “These figures make it clear that, even though we have relatively high uptake of the HPV vaccine, we could make a dramatic difference by making simple improvements to the programme.”

“Treatment for cervical cancer and pre-cancerous lesions can be traumatic and have long-lasting effects among women affected by the disease, who are often relatively young.

“By focussing on reducing regional variation and increasing uptake across the country within the existing programme, we have the potential to save even more lives and prevent women from undergoing treatment for what is now largely a preventable disease.”


  1. Increasing uptake of the HPV vaccination programme: a ‘simple’ way to further prevent cervical cancer. Armstrong et al. Public Health England Conference. September 2014.

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