Study: Cervarix could cut need for cancer screenings

Two studies published in the journal Lancet Oncology found GlaxoSmithKline's HPV vaccine is so effective that health authorities could eventually consider cutting the recommendation for regular HPV screenings to a one-time test in a woman's mid- to late-twenties. The U.S. and Finnish researchers also found Cervarix protects against several other HPV-types not primarily targeted by the vaccine.

Finland was one of the first countries to support a nationwide HPV vaccination campaign in 2007. Vaccination rates there are high enough that health officials could save money by stopping the now-unnecessary cancer screenings, explains the University of Tampere's Matti Lehtinen, who worked on the studies. The CDC currently recommends women ages 11 to 26 get either Cervarix or Merck's Gardasil, but U.S. vaccination rates are lagging due to concerns about safety and the cost of the vaccines.

"Provided that organized vaccination programs achieve high coverage in early adolescents before sexual debut, HPV vaccination has the potential to substantially reduce the incidence of cervical cancer, probably allowing the modification of screening programs," Lehtinen told Reuters.

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