Up to date HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccinations could prevent 620 cervical cancers every year, the MSD laboratory said on Saturday. Their statement came the day before International HPV awareness day. MSD is the Belgian branch of the American pharmaceutical company Merck. The HPV virus affects 80% of sexually active people at least once in their life and is responsible for 90% of cervical cancers.
700 women a year in Belgium are diagnosed with cervical cancer and it kills around 190.
The HPV vaccination works best when administrated before the young woman becomes old enough to be sexually active.
Vaccinating men, who can also get the virus, protects them against illnesses linked to HPV. These include cancer of the penis, anus, mouth or throat. There has been a large increase in cases of these cancers over the last few years. However, directly protecting girls has been made the priority, Professor Frédéric Kridelka from the CHU revealed in a press release.
Despite recent “encouraging” statistics, testing is not yet efficient enough and not enough young people are vaccinated in Belgium, especially in Wallonia and Brussels (barely 30%).
On average, precancerous lesions develop 10 to 15 years after the initial infection. “An epidemiological study shows 3,024 cases of precancerous lesions and 16,293 cases of genital warts in Belgium could be avoided in the short term with up to date vaccinations”, the Professor says.