Researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) say that the administration of a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer led to a significant reduction in abnormal Pap test results among girls and women during a study.
The researchers said that the findings suggested that the vaccine, named GARDASIL, could help prevent the development of cell changes that lead to cervical disease.
According to them, GARDASIL reduced abnormal Pap test results by 43 per cent, when compared to women who did not receive the vaccine.
The researchers said that the 43 per cent reduction was for tests that found pre-cancerous changes called high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) more than three years after women were given the vaccine.
They further said that GARDASIL reduced other abnormal Pap results—such as milder pre-malignant cell changes—by 16 to 35 per cent as compared to women not given the vaccine.
Dr. Warner Huh, associate professor in the UAB Division of Gynecologic Oncology, said that though the findings were not definitive that GARDASIL prevents cancer, they did signal the vaccine would spare thousands of women a diagnosis of cell abnormality or malignant changes that may lead to more tests and possibly surgery.
"Clearly the vaccine's benefits include something that can be appreciated by women and daughters fairly quickly. This is a positive first sign, and it will take many more years to know definitively if the vaccine prevents cancer," Huh said.
The results, presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Gynecological Oncologists in Tampa, are a compilation of three separate trials involving more than 18,000 women, aged 16 to 26, in the US, Europe and Asia.
GARDASIL is approved to fight the human papilloma virus (HPV) strains that are believed to cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers, and more than 90 per cent of genital warts.