Letters to the Editor

Does the HPV Vaccine Prevent Cervical Cancer?


Am Fam Physician. 2014 Jul 1;90(1):8.

Original Article: Cervical Cancer

Issue Date: June 15, 2012

Available at: https://www.aafp.org/afp/2012/0615/p1186.html

to the editor: A news release that I received recently from the Minnesota Department of Health states that the primary purpose of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination is to prevent cancer. However, the AFP CME quiz question for this article says that HPV vaccination has not been shown to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer. I am a little confused now. Can you provide me with evidence-based information on which is correct?

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

in reply: Existing HPV vaccines provide protection against high-risk HPV types that are known to cause cervical dysplasia, which leads to cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends routine HPV vaccination at 11 to 12 years of age1 based on randomized controlled trials that demonstrate effective prevention against precancerous cervical lesions (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2 and 3).2,3 Because invasive cervical cancer is rare in the United States, studies have not yet established an association between HPV vaccination and a lower incidence of cervical cancer. However, the intent of HPV vaccination is ultimately to prevent cervical cancer.


1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. Immunization schedules. January 21, 2014. http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html. Accessed May 14, 2014.

2. FUTURE II Study Group. Quadrivalent vaccine against human papillomavirus to prevent high-grade cervical lesions. N Engl J Med. 2007;356(19):1915–1927.

3. Paavonen J, Naud P, Salmerón J, et al. HPV PATRICIA Study Group. Efficacy of human papillomavirus (HPV)-16/18 AS04-adjuvanted vaccine against cervical infection and precancer caused by oncogenic HPV types (PATRICIA): final analysis of a double-blind, randomised study in young women. Lancet. 2009;374(9686):301–314.

Send letters to afplet@aafp.org, or 11400 Tomahawk Creek Pkwy., Leawood, KS 66211-2680. Include your complete address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Letters should be fewer than 400 words and limited to six references, one table or figure, and three authors.

Letters submitted for publication in AFP must not be submitted to any other publication. Possible conflicts of interest must be disclosed at time of submission. Submission of a letter will be construed as granting the AAFP permission to publish the letter in any of its publications in any form. The editors may edit letters to meet style and space requirements.

This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



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