Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among females worldwide and affects over half a million women globally each year! Human papillomavirus (HPV) is known to be the cause of cervical cancer by targeting cells in the cervix. The main factors for getting an HPV infection is the age that sex first occurs and ongoing sexual activity. As a result, finding ways to prevent and protect against the spread of the HPV infection before sexual activity begins is our plan.
HOW CAN THE QUEST STUDY HELP?
The HPV vaccine can safely prevent cervical cancer in women. But what we do not know is how long this protection lasts and if there is a difference between 2 or 3 doses of the vaccine. Until recently, the main way to of preventing, diagnosing, and treating cervical cancer was through public health programs, such as routine screening. Now we have a defence against cervical cancer and HPV, with a vaccine that can 100% prevent against certain strains of HPV. Now we need to find out how long that protection will last
The Benefit for Canadian Woman: Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women aged 20-49. All Canadian provinces have a school based HPV vaccine program for girls. The vaccine is given to girls at different grades, depending on which province she lives in.
- In BC 2 doses of Q-HPV vaccine are given in grade 6
- In AB 3 doses of Q-HPV vaccine are given
- In QC 2 doses are given with an option for a 3rd dose 5 years later
- In NS and PEI 3 doses Q-HPV vaccine are given.
Which schedule is best? By learning about how long and how well protection against HPV disease lasts and by comparing the group that got 2 doses of Q-HPV vaccine with the group that got 3 doses, we can ensure that all Canadian girls are well protected against HPV infection and therefore cervical cancer.
The Benefit for Women Worldwide: Women around the world will also benefit from this study. The cost and complexity of giving the HPV vaccine to women around the world is a BIG task. Each dose of HPV vaccine is very expensive and many women may not be able to afford all 3 doses. Lowering the number of doses with the knowledge that 2 doses works as well as 3 to protect girls, will lower the cost. Less cost for the vaccines means more doses can be bought for other girls. In many countries there are no vaccine registries, no addresses, and girls move around. So knowing that girls will require fewer doses will decrease the complexity of finding girls for their later doses of vaccine. Getting vaccine to these girls is very challenging, the fewer times this has to happen the better!
See more facts on HPV here.