Pre-cancerous gynecologic conditions are a major headache for the many women who live with them because of the risk of developing HPV-related diseases. There currently is no way to prevent the recurrence of these conditions, meaning clinicians must regularly monitor them.
"Most women that become carriers of HPV will clear the infection on their own, but more high-risk type of the virus will stay in the system, and as long as they carry it, dysplasias can occur," said Dr. Ginger Gardner, a gynecologic oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. "Once there's a dysplasia, it requires continued surveillance. There are a lot of health care dollars given to screening diagnosis and management of dysplasias."
In an editorial accompanying the study, Jane Kim, assistant professor of health decision science at the Harvard School of Public Health, wrote that learning more about the vaccine's ability to prevent these gynecologic conditions and its other potential benefits is crucial.
"Worldwide, decision makers who are increasingly considering adopting HPV vaccination programs need information on the total potential health gains and the priority target groups for vaccination," she wrote. "The current study moves us closer to understanding the full scope of benefits from HPV vaccination by showing for the first time that vaccine protection against disease can endure beyond the management of HPV-related disease in women already vaccinated."