“This study is fundamental and encouraging, rejoices Richard Villet, president of the oncology commission of the National Academy of Medicine. It will give arguments in favor of vaccination, which is effective and necessary. ” He welcomes the publication by the scientific journal The Lancetof a study which confirms the drop in cases of cervical cancer among people vaccinated against the papillomavirus, the sexually transmitted virus that causes 100% of cancers of this type.
Carried out on a cohort of several thousand British women eligible for vaccination since 2008, the study “Provides the first direct evidence of the effect of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination on the frequency of cervical cancer”, explain the authors.
Their results show a reduction in cervical cancer of over 87% among 12-13 year olds and over 62% for 14-16 year olds. For Emmanuel Ricard, delegate for the prevention and promotion of screening at the League against cancer, the publication “Completes the demonstration of the relevance of the vaccine and warns of the importance of vaccination for the protection of all”.
Prevention of other cancers
In France and the United Kingdom, the vaccine is available to young girls aged 11 to 14, with a possible catch-up up to 18 years, and recently to boys of the same age.
→ READ. Papillomavirus vaccine extended to boys
Injection of both doses is recommended before the first sexual intercourse, “Where most papillomavirus infections are contracted, which in 10% of cases can turn into cancerous lesions”, explains Yves Buisson, epidemiologist at the Academy of Medicine. “The HPV vaccine prevents the virus from entering the mucous membranes and stops both benign and malignant infections. So we stop dead the development of lesions and future cancers ”, reports the professor.
In addition to acting against cancer of the cervix, which affects 3,000 French women every year and causes the death of a thousand, the vaccine also prevents cancers of the anus or oral cavity caused by papillomavirus infection.
Low immunization coverage
If the authors of the study wish to continue their work over time to confirm their results, Emmanuel Ricard already hopes that these will be the source “A new wave of French enthusiasm”. Despite the incentives of the High Authority for Health (HAS), the vaccination coverage rate of young girls did not exceed 24% in 2018. Eligible since 2020, young boys are still very poorly vaccinated.
Faced with these figures which do not take off and a slight increase in mortality, Yves Buisson urges a wider promotion of the vaccine: “At 11 years old, children and their parents do not perceive the risk of the virus and the need to be vaccinated, because cervical cancer takes more than 10 years to develop after infection. The renewal of vaccination in France must go through the teaching of treating physicians and more information at school. “