A school vaccination programme is ongoing to protect young girls against sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes most cases of the disease.
The jab guards against two strains of the HPV virus – 16 and 18 – which previous research has shown cause around 70% of cases of cervical cancer.
Now, however, experts believe the jab could prevent between 73% and 77% of cases, and could offer cross protection to other strains of HPV.
This means the number of cases of cervical cancer across the whole of the UK could fall from almost 3,000 at the moment to fewer than 700 a year.
With almost 1,000 women dying from the disease every year, more lives could also be saved.
The latest research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, was carried out by scientists at the Health Protection Agency, the University of Manchester and Manchester Royal Infirmary.
Their study focused on England and involved analysing which types of HPV women had, taken from more than 6,000 samples.
The women were from all age groups and were at various stages of disease, from normal to advanced cancer.
The study also showed how many cancers in England are due to HPV types other than 16 and 18.
Source: Press Association