Federal health officials say that a vaccine has caused a sharp decline among teenage girls in the prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV), the main cause of cervical cancer. A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reported in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, shows that the infection rate decreased by 56 percent since the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2006.
In a video interview, Memorial Sloan-Kettering gynecologic cancer surgeon Carol L. Brown said these results represent a major advance in the prevention of cervical cancer.
“It’s a huge, huge breakthrough — it’s the first evidence that we have that using the HPV vaccine in teenage girls in the United States is really effective,” she said.
More than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases are caused by one of the HPV viruses that the vaccine addresses. HPV also causes some other types of cancer, and vaccination is recommended for both teenage girls and boys.
Dr. Brown has played a leading role in efforts to increase awareness of the link between HPV and cervical cancer and the importance of increasing the vaccination rate. She was not involved in the CDC study.