Cancer vaccine data 'encouraging'
A cervical cancer vaccine programme has produced the first evidence of disease prevention among treated women.
The vaccine targets human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus believed to trigger cervical cancer.
Researchers in Australia found that introducing the vaccine led to a reduced incidence of high-grade abnormal cells that are precursors to cancer.
Among girls under the age of 18, incidences of high-grade cervical abnormalities (HGAs) fell by a statistically significant 0.38%.
The HPV vaccination programme was introduced in Australia for all women aged 12 to 26 between 2007 and 2009.
Researchers compared HGA rates before and after the start of the programme.
The team, led by Dr Julia Brotherton, from Victorian Cytology Service Registries in Melbourne, wrote in The Lancet medical journal: "This is the first report of a decrease in incidence of high-grade cervical abnormalities within three years after implementation of a population-wide HPV vaccination programme."
Kate Broun, Cancer Council Victoria's cancer screening manager, said: "This is encouraging data and a good first indication that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine is effective at preventing cervical cell abnormalities. However this is only suggestive evidence and we really need to see the link with Pap (papillomavirus) test registers to confirm this."