HPV vaccine could prevent over 100,000 cancers

Estimates suggest that the HPV vaccine programme could prevent over 64,000 cervical cancers and nearly 50,000 non-cervical cancers by 2058.

From September 2019, boys in school year 8 will be offered the free Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for the first time.

Worldwide, about 5% of all cancers are linked to the HPV virus. This includes cervical, penile, anal and genital cancers and some cancers of the head and neck – all of which the vaccine helps to protect against. Cervical cancer is currently the most common cancer in women under 35, killing around 850 women each year. HPV is thought to be responsible for over 99% of cervical cancers, as well as 90% of anal, about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers and more than 60% of penile cancers.

Modelling produced by the University of Warwick estimates that by 2058 in the UK the HPV vaccine currently being used may have prevented up to 64,138 HPV-related cervical cancers and 49,649 other HPV-related cancers.  This would be 50 years after the introduction of the HPVvaccination programme, when people who were vaccinated as teenagers have reached the age groups that they would typically be affected by HPV-related cancers.

Head of Immunisation at Public Health England (PHE) Dr Mary Ramsay said:

This universal programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls’ programme.

Offering the vaccine to boys will not only protect them but will also prevent more cases of HPV-related cancers in girls and reduce the overall burden of these cancers in both men and women in the future.

I encourage all parents of eligible boys and girls to make sure they take up the offer for this potentially life-saving vaccine.

It’s important not to delay vaccination, as the vaccine may be less effective as adolescents get older.

Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy said:

The success of the HPV vaccine programme for girls is clear and by extending it to boys we will go a step further to help us prevent more cases of HPV-related cancer every year.

Through our world-leading vaccination programme, we have already saved millions of lives and prevented countless cases of terrible diseases. Experts predict that we could be on our way toward eliminating cervical cancer for good.

Programmes like this are at the heart of our work to help people live longer, healthier lives through the NHS Long Term Plan and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to take up this potentially life-saving vaccine.

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