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Cancer vaccine boost

13th March 2006

Vaccines could prevent around one in ten cases of cancer in the UK, according to a new report.

Research published by Cancer Research UK states that anti-viral vaccines could prevent infections that are thought to initiate some forms of cancer.

Cancers that are linked to infection and can therefore be treated include those of the liver, cervix, stomach and nasal passages as well as Hodgkin's lymphomas and a small number of leukaemia types.

A vaccine for cervical cancer, which accounts for 3,000 new cancer cases in the UK each year, is at the most advanced stage; with a protection rate currently thought to be around 70 per cent.

Lead author Professor Alan Rickinson, from the University of Birmingham's Cancer Research UK Institute, said: "Studying the association between infectious agents and human cancers is extremely important because, in such cases, infection represents one defined link in the chain of events leading to cancer development.

"If we can break the chain by preventing the infection through vaccination, then we can prevent the cancer developing."

It is thought the new findings could prevent 25 per cent of cancer cases in developing countries.