A vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV) can almost entirely prevent cervical cancer and precancers if given to girls early enough, a U.K. study published in the Lancet on Wednesday evening suggests.
Researchers from King’s College London found an 87 per cent relative reduction in cervical cancer among women who had received the Cervarix HPV vaccine when they were 12 or 13, compared to the expected rate among unvaccinated women.
There was a 62 per cent reduction among those who had received their shots between the ages 14 and 16, and a 34 per cent reduction among women who were immunized when they were 16 to 18 years old.
The peer-reviewed study also showed significant reductions in non-invasive cervical carcinoma (CIN3) — a type of cervical precancer — ranging from a 39 per cent reduction in women who had received the HPV vaccine between age 16 to 18, to a 97 per cent reduction for those immunized at age 12 or 13.
“Our findings should greatly reassure those still hesitant about the benefits of HPV vaccination,” the study authors said.
“We have shown that HPV vaccination with high coverage in 12-13 year old girls has almost eliminated cervical cancer and cervical precancer up to age 25 (the extent of the observed data).”
For this observational study, the researchers examined data from a population-based cancer registry. They looked at cervical cancer and precancer assessments conducted between Jan. 1, 2006 and June 30, 2019 in women between 20- and 64-years old.
All the women lived in the U.K., which began its school-based HPV immunization program in 2008. The older generations represented in the data would not have had access to HPV vaccination.
The researchers estimated that between 2006 and 2019 there had been approximately 448 fewer than expected cervical cancers and 17,235 fewer than expected cases of the CIN3 precancer among those in the vaccinated cohorts.
‘Very exciting study’
Cervarix protects against two strains of HPV associated with cervical cancer (Type 16 and Type 18). The Gardisil and Gardisil 9 vaccines are more commonly used in Canada, which started its school-based HPV vaccination program in 2007.
But the study’s results are relevant in this country too, said Dr. Amanda Selk, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. She was not involved in the British research.
“It’s a very exciting study, because it’s the first study that’s actually shown the HPV vaccine can prevent cervix cancer. All previous studies have shown that the vaccine can prevent the precancers,” said Selk, who is also president of the Society of Canadian Colposcopists. (Colposcopists examine the cervix.)
The results aren’t a surprise, she said, but the study provides additional proof of the vaccine’s importance — and may help convince parents who have been hesitant to have their children vaccinated.
“Many of us assumed it prevented cancers, but there were non-believers who wanted to see the cancer data. So here it is. Now we have it,” she said.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, more than 1,400 people in Canada are expected to be diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2021 and about 380 will die from it. Both the society and the World Health Organization say nearly all cervical cancers are preventable, and have called for increased uptake of the HPV vaccine.
Dr. Allan Covens, head of gynecologic oncology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, said the British study is “significant” for Canada.
“Both countries have adopted mass vaccination for young women,” Covens, who also was not involved in the U.K. study, said.
“So we can expect to see similar results in reduction in not only cervical cancer, but also precancerous changes [in cervical cells].”
The goal, Covens said, is to vaccinate young people before they become sexually active and are exposed to HPV. In addition, the younger someone is, the more robust their immune response to the vaccine is expected to be.
“We have the ability to prevent cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is related to a viral infection, and we can mitigate and prevent it with simple vaccination,” Covens said.
“It’s a safe vaccine and we’ve proven that it does exactly what it has been claimed to do,” Covens said.
Continued followup needed
The U.K. researchers acknowledged some limitations in their study, including the fact that since the HPV immunization program only started 13 years ago, the vaccinated population is still young and therefore would be less likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer anyway.
Because cervical cancer is rare in young women, more followup as they grow older is needed, they said.
However, Type 16 and Type 18 HPV are found in up to 92 per cent of “women diagnosed with cervical cancer before the age of 30,” the authors said in a news release.
Despite the limitation, the study results are still significant, both Covens and Selk said.
In fact, the benefits could be even greater than the results suggest, they said, because the researchers only looked at outcomes for those who had received the Cervarix vaccine.
Gardisil also protects against HPV Types 16 and 18, and two types that cause genital warts. Gardisil 9 also protects against five additional HPV strains that can cause cervical cancer.
COVID-19 shows up in Canadian wildlife for first time with three Quebec deer infected – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
OTTAWA – For the first time, the COVID-19 virus has been detected in Canadian wildlife.
Environment Canada says the virus was detected late last month in three wild white-tailed deer in Quebec.
The department says the deer all appeared healthy and showed no clinical signs of COVID-19.
The discovery follows recent reports of the virus spreading among white-tailed deer in the United States.
There has so far been no known transmission of COVID-19 from deer to humans and Environment Canada says it remains “largely a disease of human concern and typically spreads from human to human.”
Still, until more is known, it says anyone exposed to respiratory tissues and fluids from deer should wear a well-fitting mask and avoid splashing of fluids as much as possible.
COVID-19 has infected multiple species of animals, including dogs, cats, farmed mink and zoo animals. But this is the first time in Canada that it has spilled over into wildlife.
Deer in the Estrie region of Quebec were sampled Nov. 6 to 8. The National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease confirmed the virus in three of them on Monday. The World Organisation for Animal Health was notified on Wednesday.
“As this is the first detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife in Canada, information on the impacts and spread of the virus in wild deer populations is currently limited,” Environment Canada said in a news release Wednesday.
“This finding emphasizes the importance of ongoing surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in wildlife to increase our understanding about SARS-CoV-2 on the human-animal interface.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2021.
KFL&A reports 34 new COVID-19 cases, 304 active – Globalnews.ca
The Kingston region is once again over the 300 active cases mark, as Wednesday’s 34 new cases bring the daily active case count to 304.
Of the new cases, 10 are in the five-to-11 age group.
Nineteen people remain in hospital, with 11 of those cases are in the intensive care unit. Six people are on ventilators.
The cases per 100,000 over the past week is up slightly to 104.7, from 102.8 Tuesday.
The rise in cases locally has also forced the postponing of at least one local event. The Marine Museum of the Great Lakes was scheduled to have its grand opening on Dec. 5 from 2 to 4 p.m.
“As the coronavirus pandemic continues to have significant impacts throughout our communities, the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston is committed to supporting the community through this time of heightened risk and uncertainty,” the Marine Museum said in a statement Wednesday.
“We consider the safety of our staff, volunteers and visitors paramount.”
As Covid-19 cases rise in the Kingston region the community reacts
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Roussin takes aim at HIV stigma – Brandon Sun
Wednesday was World AIDS Day and the province is getting behind the message to end the stigma of the disease.
There were 117 new cases of HIV identified in the province in 2020, slightly fewer than in 2019.
“Even though there are fewer cases, there was also significantly less testing,” Dr. Brent Roussin, the province’s chief public health officer, said Wednesday.
“Around 25 per cent of people with HIV are unaware they have it, and that can contribute to the spread.”
The stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS continues to be a significant public health issue in the province. Roussin said the populations most at risk are also facing problems of accessibility caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Roussin urged people who may be at risk to get regular testing and speak to their health-care providers regarding prevention, testing and treatment options.
All these services are confidential and free of charge.
Those living with HIV are also encouraged to stay connected to care and treatments.
Roussin said it is considered a chronic infection and there are effective treatments for HIV, with many being able to get the virus level down to undetectable levels and minimizing risk of transmitting it to other people.
» The Brandon Sun
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