Middle-aged women should be offered same jab as young girls
Rising numbers of women divorcing and embarking on new sexual relationships means that they may also benefit from having the cervical cancer jab normally offered to girls aged 12-13.
A study by Dr Nubia Munoz, published online in The Lancet, shows that susceptible older females ‘could also benefit from vaccination.’
Around 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in Britain each year. Around 1,000 women die annually from the disease.
The human papillomavirus or HPV, which is linked to cervical cancer, is mostly transmitted through sexual contact. This means that vaccination efforts currently target teenage girls before they become active sexually.
But, as Dr Munoz says, ‘Changes in sexual behaviour during the past 30 years, characterised by rising age at first marriage and an increase in divorce rates, have led to more widespread premarital sexual intercourse and acquisition of new sexual partners around middle age respectively.’
Dr Munoz added that, ‘In the US, nearly 40% of men and women have married and divorced by the age of 55, and that more than 25% of these people have remarried at least once. ‘As the potential for HPV infection exists in women in their third, fourth and fifth decades of life, these women could benefit from the vaccine.’