Women continue to attend screening programmes for the early detection of cervical cancer following the introduction of HPV vaccination with Gardasil®

Results from a survey in Denmark, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and Sweden suggest that adult women continue to attend screening programmes for the early detection of cervical cancer or might even increase attendance after the introduction of the four-type human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil® for girls and young women to help prevent cervical cancer.

The results imply that knowledge about the vaccine could increase the probability of attending screening programmes. According to the survey 81 % of mothers with daughters in the age group 9 -17 years, who know about the vaccine, go to screening at least every 3 years, compared to 70 % of the mothers who don’t know about the vaccine. Mothers who had their daughters vaccinated tend to have a higher screening attendance than mothers who didn’t.

“HPV vaccination as primary prevention and screening programmes for early detection of cervical cancer together are the best way to fight cervical cancer. These results imply that information about cervical cancer, how it is caused and how it can be prevented, as part of vaccination programmes allows women to make better decisions about disease protection,” says Professor Albert Singer at the Whittington Hospital NHS Trust, London, UK.

While Gardasil® targets HPV types that cause about 70% of all cervical cancer in Europe it cannot prevent all cervical cancer. Thus, all women should be sensitised to the need for continued screening. At the same time screening does not prevent disease but detects pre-cancerous cervical lesions which need follow-up or have to be removed through surgery; detection may be incomplete.

Together vaccination and screening can save more lives of women from cervical cancer, and HPV vaccination can also reduce suffering, distressing uncertainty about the progression of precancerous lesions to cancer and the need for medical follow-up and surgery.

Gardasil® is the only four-type (6,11,16,18) HPV vaccine. In addition to unsurpassed and sustained cervical cancer protection, Gardasil® can protect from cervical, vulvar and vaginal pre-cancer, and from genital warts caused by HPV types 6, 11, 16 and 18. These four types together cause the vast majority of HPV-related genital diseases. ,

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