Research Reveals Human Papillomavirus Vaccine Prevents Cancer, But At Later Stage

A new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has revealed that vaccination against the human papillomavirus or HPV, which is a major cause of throat and back of mouth cancers, will not yield any significant results until after the year 2045.

Globally, HPV is one of the most common sexually transmitted viruses. The HPV is the main reason behind cancerous growth in the mouth, throat and cervix. These forms of cancer are highly dangerous as they disturb the DNA and attack the tumor-suppressor proteins of the cells they affect. As no cure has been found for HPV infections, vaccines are expected to go a long way in preventing diseases caused by the highly infectious virus.

As part of the new study, researchers went through the national databases on oropharyngeal cancer cases and HPV vaccinations and compared the impact of HPV vaccination on the instances of cancer infections in various age groups. The detailed study revealed that the rate of oropharyngeal cancer would be down by half between 2018 and 2045, among people in the 36-45 age bracket. The study also revealed that oropharyngeal cancer rate in the general population would not fall between 2018-2045 as many older people are still getting infected with cancer.

Commenting on the study findings, lead author Yuehan Zhang from the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School, said, ""We estimate that most of the oropharyngeal cancers from 2018 to 2045 will occur among people who are 55 years and older and have not been vaccinated."

Researchers added that the vaccinations will be able to prevent throat and back of mouth cancers, but some time will pass before their overall impact will be seen as these cancers usually surface in middle-aged people.

Vaccination is an important tool against cancers caused by HPV but there is one major drawback, it can only prevent the cancer and not treat. The vaccines do not function against established HPV infections or against cells that have been transformed by HPV and are fast spreading the cancerous cells. So, the researchers have recommended that young people who not yet been exposed to the HPV virus get vaccinated to prevent the occurrence of these forms of cancer during their middle/old age.

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