Nearly 25 million U.S. women between the ages of 14 and 59 are infected with HPV, and the annual cost of screening and treating cervical abnormalities is about $4 billion, according to a statement from the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists.
For many unvaccinated women HPV infections clear up naturally without causing any cervical problems, as do many pre-malignant lesions. In other cases, HPV prompts cell changes that can gradually put women at greater risk of cervical cancer.
A significant drop in abnormal Pap test results happened after girls and women were given the vaccine named Gardasil to prevent cervical cancer, according to a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).
While the findings are not definitive that Gardasil prevents cancer, they do signal the vaccine will spare thousands of women a diagnosis of cell abnormality or malignant changes that may lead to more tests and possibly surgery, said Warner Huh, M.D., associate professor in the UAB Division of Gynecologic Oncology and the doctor chosen to present the data.