HPV vaccine saves lives

Ground-breaking research into the impact of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine given to schoolgirls across Scotland revealed it has almost wiped out cases of cervical pre-cancer in young women.

Senior Research Fellow Dr Kevin Pollock helped lead a study into the impact of the vaccine with academics from the universities of Strathclyde, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

Published in the British Medical Journal, the researchers’ report showed that the routine vaccination of girls has led to a dramatic reduction in cervical pre-cancer.

The Scottish Government introduced an HPV vaccination programme for adolescent boys in Scotland after Dr Pollock’s second study, published in the Royal College of Radiologists Journal Clinical Oncology, recommended that vaccinating them against HPV could also cut rates of head and neck cancers related to the virus in the long term.

The two-year study of 235 patients in Scotland with head and neck cancer found HPV was present in 60% of cases.

The vaccine has exceeded expectation. It is associated with the near elimination of both low- and high-grade cervical disease in young Scottish women eight years after the vaccine programme started.

Dr Kevin Pollock
School of Health and Life Sciences