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Vaccines prevent cancers of the liver and cervix

Both cancer of the liver and cervix are caused by viruses. Hepatitis B (HBV) may cause hepatocellular carcinoma liver cancer. Human papilloma virus (HPV) may cause cervical cancer. Women infected with the virus HPV have a 100 fold greater risk of developing cervical cancer than uninfected women. HPV are also important causes of anal, vulva and penis cancers, and a small number of oropharynx and skin cancers.

With vaccines against HBV and HPV up to 15% of the global cancer incidence in women seems to be preventable, Professor Harald zur Hausen told the 18th UICC International Cancer Congress in Oslo this week. zur Hausen is Scientific Director at the German Cancer Research Centre (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum) in Heidelberg, Germany.

Clinical trials for HPV vaccination are presently carried out in various places around the world. Phase II trials have been finished and revealed the safety of the vaccines used and the induction of high antibody titers against some types of high and low risk papillomaviruses.

An effective vaccine against hepatitis B (HBV) has been available since 1981. First data suggesting a protective effect for hepatocellular carcinoma were published from Taiwan in 1997. Results from Gambia show that vaccines for heaptitis B in children is 95 per cent effective in protecting aganinst chronic HBV infection. 10 years after the vaccination, hepatitis B is much lower in vaccinated than in unvaccinated children, and the proportion of chronic carriers has dropped tenfold to just 1% of the total.

Half a million women contract cervical cancer every year
Cancer of the cervix is most common in South America and parts of Africa and Asia. The number of new cases world wide is estimated to about 500 000 new cases a year. This cancer is the sixth most common cancer in the world, accounting for 5,8 per cent of the 9,9 million new cancer cases in 2000.

More than 80 per cent of the victims live
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Contact: Hanna Hanes
hhaanes@online.no
Norwegian Cancer Society
3-Jul-2002


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