A study conducted by the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO-Idibell), which has just published the 'British Journal of Cancer' has shown for the first time that the tetravalent vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) is also effective in women adults over 26 years old. So far, only its effectiveness had been demonstrated below the age of 25 years.

This virus (there are several groups of HPV) is the main precursor factor of cervical cancer, and can cause genital and skin warts to develop. It is also related to anal cancer and, to a lesser extent, those of the vulva, vagina, penis and oropharynx.

The research, led by the researcher of the Infection and Cancer Unit of the ICO-Idibell, has been carried out for four years in about 4,000 women between 25 and 45 years, half of whom were given the vaccine and the rest a placebo. Following the application of the vaccine, the number of developed antibodies, HPV infections, preneoplastic lesions and genital warts were monitored.

So far, only the effectiveness of the HPV vaccine had been demonstrated below the age of 25 years

The ICO has been the only Spanish center to participate in the clinical trials of the two vaccines that exist so far: Gardasil and Cervarix. The first tetravalent, protects against variants 6, 11, 16 and 18 of the virus (HPV-6 and HPV-11 cause most cases of genital warts), while Cervarix, bivalent, does so alone to HPV-16 and HPV-18, the two types of HPV that cause the most cases (70%) of cervical cancer. Keep in mind that vaccines do not protect against all types of HPV that cause cervical cancer, and that they are only preventive, that is, they do not serve to treat cervical cancer as such.

In Spain, it is estimated that approximately 7% of women under 25 years of age are infected with the Human Papilloma Virus. The most effective method to prevent it is to vaccinate girls in preadolescence, before they have their first sexual relationship. However, we must remember that this vaccine should not replace other preventive measures such as the use of condoms and periodic cytologies.


HPV vaccine: Help your kids prevent cancer (November 2019).