Cervical Cancer Vaccine

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Almost 100 per cent of cervical cancer is caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and MERCK SHARP and DOHME have been working on preventative vaccines. Results of a recent trial using one vaccine and co-ordinated in the UK by the University of Nottingham, showed that none of the women vaccinated went on to catch the HPV infection. One vaccine used seems to prevent infection by two strains of HPV, these accounting for 70 per cent of cervical cancers. Up to 4,000 women contract cervical cancer each year in the UK and 500,000 worldwide. Males may carry the virus without even realising it.

This is not a cure but a preventative vaccine. The big issue is at what age to give the first injection as girls become sexually active at ever-younger ages. However this may in time lead to a decrease in the need for smear tests which have had their share of controversy with bungled test results and confusion in recent years.

A final round of tests will now involve 6,600 women worldwide.

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