Less is more in cervical cancer vaccine, research suggests

9 September 2011

Preventing cervical cancer by using fewer than three doses of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Cervarix may be just as effective as utilising the standard dose, scientists claim.

Research in Lancet Oncology that may further inform the development of cancer treatment suggested that HPV vaccines could be administered at least once to have a noticeable preventative outcome, rather than the standard three.

Studying a trial of Costa Rican women over four years, researchers led by Professor Aimee R Kreimer of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute said they were surprised at the results.

"Fewer doses to more women could potentially reduce cervical cancer incidence more than a standard three-dose programme that uses the same total number of doses but in fewer women," explained the researchers.

However, they cautioned that further surveillance studies were needed to determine whether results would continue over and above the four-year limit of their trial.

Cervical cancer incidence rates have decreased by ten per cent over the course of the decade, according to Cancer Research UK. It is the eleventh most common form of the disease in British women, affecting around 1,660 women per year.

Posted by Edward Bartel

1 Kreimer, Aimée R., et. al., "Efficacy of a bivalent HPV 16/18 vaccine against anal HPV 16/18 infection among young women: a nested analysis within the Costa Rica Vaccine Trial". The Lancet Oncology. September 2011.

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