Virtual end to cervical cancer is within reach, expert says

(CBS News) Nearly wiping out cervical cancer is within reach with increased HPV vaccinations, Dr. Carol Brown, a gynecologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, said on "CBS This Morning."

Brown's comments come after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found HPV infections in teenage girls have dropped by 56 percent from 2003 to 2010. A vaccine was introduced in 2006.

HPV is the most commonly transmitted disease in the nation and it can cause cervical cancer.

CDC: HPV vaccine reduced disease rates in teen girls by 56 percent

Speaking of the study's results and the vaccine, Brown said, "It's a huge, huge breakthrough. It's the first evidence that we have that using the HPV vaccine on teenage girls in the United States is really effective."

However, as "CTM" co-host Norah O'Donnell noted, very few girls have been vaccinated. The U.S. has a goal of an 80 percent vaccination rate, but only 35 percent of girls in 2011 received the full, three-shot dose, a CDC researcher and study lead author said in a recent report. Fifty-three percent received at least one dose, but the efficacy of the vaccine without a full vaccination series is unknown. The vaccine, marketed under the name Gardasil, is given as three injections over six months.

If the U.S. could get the rates up, Brown said, "we absolutely could almost wipe out cervical cancer...about 70 to 80 percent of cervical cancers are caused by the HPV virus, so if we could vaccinate all these girls, we would be able to (almost) wipe it out."

And while the study focused on girls, Brown said boys should be vaccinated, too, based on recommendations by the CDC and many other professional societies, such as the Society of Gynecologic Oncology.

Brown said, "Pediatricians and those who give the vaccine need to be aware of these findings and parents who have been hesitant about vaccinating girls need to hear this amazing news that by doing it, it could decrease their chance of getting cervical cancer."

Watch Brown's full "CTM" interview in the video above.