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The papillomavirus vaccine prevents 90% of cervical cancers

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The papillomavirus vaccine prevents 90% of cervical cancers, according to a study in which research centers from around the world have participated, including the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), the Catalan Institute of Oncology ( ICO), the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the DDL Diagnostic Laboratory in the Netherlands, and the Cancer and Infection Biology group (IARC) in Lyon.

This work provides, for the first time, global estimates of the impact of human papillomavirus (HPV), and its vaccine, on the main types of cancer associated. The research, the most extensive and rigorous to date, has collected more than 18,000 samples of cancer patients from 50 countries. The samples belonged to tumors of the cervix, vulva, vagina, anus, penis, and tumors of the head and neck.

The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection that exists. More than 200 types of HPV are known and some may cause associated diseases, such as anogenital warts or certain types of Cancer.

“The project, which was born in 2003, was raised as an international study as controlled as possible, and with a sufficiently large sample size, to be able to obtain robust estimates of the impact of HPV and its vaccine in preventing these cancers,” he says. Dr. Laia Alemany, study leader.

The identification of the types of HPV that are involved in these cancers revealed that the vaccine that is currently used, the nonavalent vaccine, protects against the viral types present in most tumors. Its application can reduce by half the total cases of cancers of anatomical locations associated with HPV infection and, in particular, prevent 90% of cases of cervical cancer. These results suggest that, with the prevention tools that currently exist, cervical cancer could stop being a problem of public health.

Its about first and only study which develops in this field with such a large sample size and geographic representation. In addition, it is the most rigorous and homogeneous to date, both in the treatment of the samples and in the analysis protocol, which uses in addition to the detection of viral DNA, two different biomarkers for the detection of viral activity in tumors .

One of the main issues of the project was to estimate the proportion of the total cases of these types of cancer, which can be attributed to HPV infection. In some of them, HPV infection is the main oncogenic cause, how in cervical cancer, or 83% of those located in the anus. In others, such as tumors in the oral cavity (4.4%), the larynx (3.5%) or the oropharyngeal cavity (22.4%) there are other carcinogenic factors, such as the consumption of tobacco and alcohol. However, changing sexual and health habits is increasing the prevalence of HPV in these types of cancer.

HPV vaccines are vaccines in which the virus is reproduced, that is, the part that our body recognizes. The first HPV vaccines acted against the most oncogenic viral types, 16 and 18. In addition, in the tetravalent vaccine they add the types of viruses that cause anogenital warts (6, 11). We currently have another vaccine with a wider spectrum that covers genotypes 6,11,16,18,31,33,45,58, and 58.

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