A jab to to protect teenage girls from the human papillomavirus (HPV) could save more lives that previously estimated, research has suggested.
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While the injection was designed to guard against strands 16 and 18 of the virus, experts now believe it also offers cross protection against a number of other varieties.
Scientists say the results mean the number of cases of cervical cancer across the UK could fall from almost 3,000 at the moment to fewer than 700 a year.
HPA epidemiologist Kate Soldan said: “We’ve found that, if vaccine uptake is good, the HPV vaccine should prevent the majority of cases of cervical cancer in this country.
“Because the vaccine is given to teenage girls and cervical cancer affects adult women, it will be some years before we see the actual impact of immunisation, but we do expect to start seeing these effects in coming years, as vaccinated girls become adults.”