Scientists have identified a lack of clarity among parents and girls about the association between the HPV vaccine and the need for future cervical cancer screening to ensure protection against cervical cancer caused by high risk HPV types not included in the vaccine.
In some cases parental consent for their daughters to receive the vaccine was based on the false belief that cervical screening would not be necessary. There was also a profound lack of awareness about cervical screening amongst girls of vaccination age.
Dr Clements said: "For informed decisions about HPV vaccination to be made, the provision of information about the ongoing need to attend cervical screening is imperative. Our findings have the potential to improve information and educational materials for parents, eligible girls and health professionals. To ensure the uptake of cervical screening is not adversely affected, future invitations for screening will need to stress the importance of attendance regardless of whether the individual has had the HPV vaccination or not."
Hazel Nunn, Cancer Research UK's senior health information manager, said: "This is a helpful reminder that renewed efforts are needed to inform girls and their families about the importance of cervical screening in those who have had the HPV vaccination. While the vaccine is very effective at protecting against the two strains of virus which cause most cases of cervical cancer, and one of the biggest steps forward in public health in recent years, it does not protect against all the other strains so the disease can still develop.
"Cervical screening can prevent around 34 per cent of cervical cancers in women in their 30s, rising to 75 per cent in women in their 50s and 60s. Women should be reminded of the crucial role of screening in the fight against cervical cancer."