The latest news from the world of HPV in May 2020
HPV vaccine linked to fewer premature births in Australia
The HPV vaccine, which was introduced in Australia in 2007, has been linked to a decline in premature births. The study, published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, which looked at birth figures between 2007 and 2015, found a correlation between HPV vaccine coverage and a decrease in premature births and other pregnancy complications. In women aged 37 and below, there is an estimated 3.2% decline in premature births, which equates to around 2000 births. As well as this, there is a 9.8% decrease in low birth weight. The results are a direct result of the HPV vaccine reducing HPV infection rates by 80%, and therefore reducing pre-cancerous lesions, the treatment of which can cause pregnancy complications.
Promising new HPV saliva test detects early-stage throat cancer
A study published in Frontiers in Oncology outlines the development of a saliva test to detect HPV and its application detecting throat cancer. HPV-related throat cancers are increasing worldwide, and many can be prevented with the HPV vaccine. Often, throat cancers are diagnosed at a late stage, when they are hard to treat. Until now, there has been no screening test for HPV throat cancers. As part of an HPV DNA saliva trial following 600 subjects not diagnosed with cancer, a 63-year old man with zero cancer symptoms was found to have increasing HPV-16 saliva levels. On further investigation, a small tumour was found in his throat, which was then easily operated on. Following surgery, the patient has had no HPV-16 in his saliva. This is the first time early stage oropharyngeal cancer has been found using a saliva test. Moving forward, the test will be further investigated on more subjects. If successful, it may be key tracking and reduction of high-risk HPV and its development into throat cancer.
Many female undergrads unaware of risk factors for cervical cancer, skip Pap tests
A survey of female undergraduate college students in the USA has highlighted that many are not aware of the risks of cervical cancer and had not had a Pap smear. Over 60% of those surveyed had not had annual checkups, and almost 70% had never participated in a Pap smear. Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. A combination of the HPV vaccine and regular Pap tests make the worldwide elimination of cervical cancer a very real prospect. Further information from healthcare professionals, raised awareness from governments and media, and an ongoing conversation about HPV-related cancers will prevent cancer and save lives.
Millions in UK miss cancer screenings, tests and treatments due to Covid-19
Due to the suspension of normal cancer screening services in the UK, nearly 2.5 million people have missed a test, screening, or treatment. Over 2 million people were scheduled to have breast, bowel, or cervical cancer screenings. Those appointments have been re-scheduled or cancelled due to hospital strain from Covid-19. Cancer Research UK has estimated that almost 4000 cancers that would have been found in screening will have not been picked up, and a further 20,300 cancers have been missed as people are not being referred by their GP for further investigations. As well as this, fewer cancer patients have undergone surgery chemotherapy, and radiotherapy as lower immunity people are advised not to enter hospitals. As Covid cases decline and hospitals are returning to normal, NHS cancer services are beginning to return to normal. Anyone concerned about possible symptoms should contact their GP as soon as possible. More information about screening during Covid is available here: