'Cervical cancer could be eliminated in the UK within a few decades thanks to the school vaccination programme, scientists say.
A major review published last night found vaccination had led to plummeting cervical cancer risk around the world.
And experts said if uptake remains high, the disease would soon be eliminated in countries including the UK.
All schoolgirls in Britain have been offered the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine at the age of 12 or 13 since 2008 and later this year the programme will be extended to boys at the same age.
Now a major study – looking at screening programmes involving 60million people in 14 countries – has found levels of the two strands of HPV virus that are mainly responsible for the cancer fell 83 per cent in girls aged 13 to 19 after five to eight years of vaccination.
They also fell 66 per cent in women aged 20 to 24, according to results published in The Lancet medical journal.
The researchers, led by Laval University in Canada, said that if the number of people having the vaccination remains high, the cancer could soon be eliminated.
Study leader Professor Marc Brisson said: ‘What we are working on now is trying to determine when elimination will occur. We don’t have a precise date but we’re trying to determine when it will occur.’
He added that Australian scientists have estimated they could wipe out cervical cancer in their country – which has similar policies on the disease to the UK – within a few decades.
Dr David Mesher, of Public Health England, added: ‘There will be a time in the future where we will see very low rates of cervical cancer.’'
Read more: HPV vaccine programme in schools 'could wipe out cervical cancer for good', finds major study involving 60million people