Cervical cancer vaccine 'could protect older women'
Millions of women could benefit from having a vaccine to protect them from developing cervical cancer, a new study has indicated. Columbian researchers say rising sexual activity, especially among middle-aged women, is putting people at risk from the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is known to lead to the majority of cervical cancer cases. Published in the Lancet, the study suggests that women aged between 24 and 45 could benefit from a vaccination in the same way as younger women who often already receive vaccines in many countries around the world. Nubia Munoz, who led the study at the National Cancer Institute in Bogota, Columbia, said: "Changes in sexual behaviour during the past 30 years have led to more widespread premarital sexual intercourse and acquisition of new sexual partners around middle age, respectively. "As the potential for HPV infection and disease exists in women in their third, fourth, and fifth decades of life, these women could benefit from prophylactic HPV vaccination." Last month, it was reported that young girls on the Pacific island of Vanuatu are to receive cervical cancer vaccines as part of a project being run by the country's government and the University of Queensland, Australia.