Vaccines to protect against HPV virus, which causes cervical cancer, are working successfully as a drop in high-grade cervical abnormalities was seen, an Australian study has found.
Australia, which is one of the first countries to introduce the vaccination, has shown a drop in high-grade cervical abnormalities, changes to the cells in the neck of the womb that can be the precursor to cancer.
It introduced nationwide HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccination for women aged 12 to 26 from 2007.
While it will take many years to find out whether vaccination programmes definitely reduce the numbers of cervical cancers in the population, Australian scientists were able to analyse the results from their screening programme to find out whether there has been any drop in the number of young women with abnormal cell changes that are the precursor of cancer.
They report that the proportion of girls aged 17 and younger with high-grade abnormalities fell by 0.38 percent - almost halving the numbers, from 0.80 percent to 0.42 percent.
But there was no drop in the numbers of women with cervical abnormalities who were older than 17. This is unsurprising since the vaccine is known to be most effective if given to girls before they become sexually active.
"That finding reinforces the appropriateness of the targeting of prophylactic HPV vaccines to pre-adolescent girls," the Guardian quoted the authors as saying.
The findings have been published in the Lancet medical journal.