SIDEBAR: Women Who Received HPV Vaccine Still Need Cervical Cancer Screening

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The updated cervical cancer screening guidelines from the the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) note that women who receive the HPV vaccine still need to be screened for cervical cancer because the vaccine does not protect against all strains of HPV that can cause cervical cancer. “The reality is that we just don’t have any idea what the effect of the HPV vaccine is going to be, on either precancerous cervical lesions or cervical cancer itself,” according to Michael L. LeFevre, MD, MSPH, Co-Vice Chair of the USPSTF.

“We don’t know the length of immunity,” Dr. LeFevre continued. “We just don’t have 15- or 20-year follow-up on the vaccine,” Dr. LeFevre said. “I think the important thing is that people may think, ‘I had the HPV vaccine, I don’t need to worry about being screened for cervical cancer,’ but that’s not true. This is a very important public health message for us to get out. It may be true 20 years from now, but right now it is not.” ■

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