Cancer researchers have predicted that the number of women under 30 diagnosed with cervical cancer will plummet by 2025 due to the success of the HPV vaccination programme.
Researchers said the next generation of women will witness the benefit of the vaccine in their twenties and thirties when cervical cancer cases are most likely to be diagnosed.
According to government figures, 78% of girls aged 12 and 13 have received all three doses of the vaccine which protects against the development of the most severe forms of the disease - HPV 16 and HPV 18 - which cause about 70% of cervical cancers.
Based on the assumption that 80% of girls will have had the vaccine, researchers predict that the number of cases diagnosed in women in their twenties will fall by 63% as the long-term effects of the vaccine prove their worth over the next 15-20 years.
The research team also predict that 51% fewer women from the next generation will be diagnosed with a severe form of cell change which often leads to cervical cancer.
Cancer Research UK's Professor Jack Cuzick, lead author from Queen Mary, University of London, said: "This is the most realistic estimate of the impact the vaccination programme will have on the number of women who develop cervical cancer. It shows that the vaccine has great potential in preventing the disease in the near future, but also that it'll take several decades before we see its full benefits."
Copyright © Press Association 2010
Marie Stopes International comments:
HPV is a common virus passed through genital sexual contact. In many people, HPV will cause no health problems, however it can lead to cervical cancer after a number of years; the vaccination programme is therefore extremely valuable.
However, although the vaccine is a great leap forward in the prevention of cervical cancer, it is important to remember that it is not a cure-all and will only protect against certain strains of the HPV. Because the HPV vaccine does not protect against ALL cervical cancers, it is vital to encourage girls to start thinking about their cervical health as early as possible. Early detection and treatment can prevent around 75% of cervical cancers developing in women, so it is important to develop a cervical screening culture among women of all ages.