Cervical jab 'cuts screening need'
Girls who have the cervical cancer jab may only need screening twice in their lifetime, an expert has said.
Cervical cancer should become a "rare disease" thanks to the introduction of the vaccine, said Professor Peter Sasieni from Queen Mary, University of London.
Girls who have the jab when they are 12 or 13 would only need testing for the disease when they are 30 and 45, he said.
The vaccine protects against key strains of the sexually-transmitted infection human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cases of cervical cancer.
Prof Sasieni suggests the current smear test programme, which sees women invited for screening every three to five years, could be replaced with HPV testing.
The HPV test picks up 13 strains of the disease, which account for virtually all cervical cancer cases.
It typically takes over 10 years for a cancer to develop after HPV infection. Research shows that cancer caused by HPV types not prevented by the current vaccines take even longer.
"If you don't have one of these 13 types of HPV then your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next 10 years is really incredibly low," Prof Sasieni said.
"You would capture virtually everybody with HPV testing. Vaccinated women would only need to be screened when they are 30 and 45."
Prof Sasieni said around 100,000 women should continue to be screened more regularly to ensure the vaccine continues to work for a lifetime.