HPV vaccine may lead to elimination of cervical cancer, new study shows

A new study on the vaccine for human papillomavirus shows its benefits “exceed expectations” and may lead to the elimination of cervical cancer, among other findings.

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For the study, published Wednesday in the Lancet, researchers reviewed 65 studies in 14 high-income countries, The Washington Post reported. It found that since the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006, there has been a "substantial" decrease in HPV infections and related conditions.

The reduction of these infections is “a first sign that vaccination could eventually lead to the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem,” the study's first author, Mélanie Drolet of the CHU de Quebec-Laval University Research Center, said in a statement.

HPV is a common virus that's spread by skin-to-skin contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is the leading cause of cervical cancers and can cause other types of cancers, like cancers of the head and neck.

The study further showed that in countries where at least half the population that was targeted for vaccination received it, researchers saw herd immunity, meaning there was a decrease in the prevalence of HPV-related diseases even among those who weren't vaccinated, NBC News reported.

As a result of the study, a U.S. advisory panel voted Wednesday to recommend that the HPV vaccine be given to both men and women up to age 26. The panel also recommended adults ages 27 through 45 who had not been vaccinated to make shared decisions with their doctor, CNN reported.

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