This transcript has been edited for clarity.
I’m Dr. Maurie Markman from Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I would like to briefly discuss what I would characterize as one of the most important cancer prevention articles published in the past 20 years.
The article was recently published in NEJM proof‘s new magazine The New England Journal of Medicineand the article is entitled Efficacy of a single dose of human papillomavirus vaccination in young African women.
It is very clear that HPV vaccination has a huge positive effect on the precursors of cervical cancer and more and more evidence is showing an effect on cervical cancer itself. We know that more than 70% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV-16 and HPV-18. If a patient does not already have persistent HPV-16 or HPV-18, vaccination is nearly 100% effective in preventing that persistence and subsequent development of the precursors to cervical cancer.
The strategies used so far have required three doses of the HPV vaccine, although some have looked at two doses. The problem is cost, time and effort. In parts of the world and parts of the United States where it is difficult to get individuals to return for a second or third vaccination, there is a concern that the adequacy of the vaccination could be drastically reduced.
However, this article suggests just the opposite: that in fact a single dose of the available vaccines is highly effective.
A single dose was 97.5% effective in preventing persistent HPV infection – nearly 100% effective in this population.
The problem with this particular study is that the follow-up was relatively short; it was actually 18 months. Thus, more data is needed and certainly a longer follow-up with this population.
Incidentally, the World Health Organization has now supported the recommendation for a single-dose schedule. If a single dose of HPV vaccines has been shown to be as effective as two or three doses, this could be a game changer in encouraging individuals to get vaccinated. It’s a single dose. They don’t have to come back, reducing costs and tackling obstacles in areas where it is difficult to get patients vaccinated once, let alone two or three times.
We need to look at the data to confirm that these results are sustained over a period of not a few years, but much longer than that.
For those of you interested in cervical cancer prevention or cancer prevention of any kind, this is an extremely important document. I would encourage you to read and review the article, and carefully follow the additional results that emerge not only from this study, but also from other studies of a single-dose HPV vaccination strategy. I thank you for your attention.
Maurie Markman, MD, is president of medicine and science at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Philadelphia. He has over 20 years of experience in cancer treatment and gynecological oncology research.
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