Estimates suggest that by 2058 in the UK the HPV vaccine currently being used may prevent up to 64,138 HPV-related cervical cancers and 49,649 other HPV-related cancers.
Approximately 5% of all cancers are linked to the HPV virus including cervical, penile, anal and genital cancers and some cancers of the head and neck. Cervical cancer is currently the most common cancer in women under 35, killing around 850 women each year. HPV is thought to be responsible for over 99% of cervical cancers, as well as 90% of anal, about 70% of vaginal and vulvar cancers and more than 60% of penile cancers.
‘This universal programme offers us the opportunity to make HPV-related diseases a thing of the past and build on the success of the girls’ programme,’ said Head of Immunisation at Public Health England Dr Mary Ramsay.
‘Offering the vaccine to boys will not only protect them but will also prevent more cases of HPV-related cancers in girls and reduce the overall burden of these cancers in both men and women in the future.’
From September 2019, boys in school year 8 will be offered the Human Papilloma Virusvaccine for the first time. Girls have been offered the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine free from the NHS since 2008. So far, 10 million doses of HPV vaccine have been given to young women in this country meaning over 80% of women aged 15 to 24 have received the vaccine. Since the introduction of HPV vaccination, infections of some types of HPV in 16 to 21 year old women have reduced by 86% in England.
A Scottish study also showed that the vaccine has reduced pre-cancerous cervical disease in women by up to 71%. Similarly, diagnoses of genital warts have declined by 90% in 15 to 17 year old girls and 70% in 15 to 17 year old boys due to the HPV vaccine.
‘By extending the HPV vaccine to boys, the NHS is taking an important step forward in our fight to prevent cancer – more people will be better protected, and the vaccine could help to eliminate cervical cancer in this country,’ said National Cancer Director at NHS England Cally Palmer.
‘Cancer survival is now at an all-time high, and the NHS Long Term Plan will save even more lives through enhanced screening and early diagnosis programmes to catch cancers sooner when they can be treated best.’