A form of the human papillomavirus that can be prevented by vaccination is the most prevalent cause of cervical cancer among Emiratis, a study shows.
The study, at UAE University, involved the examination of 120 tissue samples from Emirati women who were cervical cancer patients at Tawam Hospital between 1991 and 2010.
It found that overall, HPV was the cause of 84 per cent of the cervical cancer cases, while HPV type 16, which can be prevented with the available vaccine, accounted for 71 per cent of the cases.
The remaining cases from HPV were caused either by type 18 or type 31 of the virus.
The vaccine, given on request to girls aged between 15 and 17 in the capital, covers types 16 and 18 of the virus, which cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers worldwide. The vaccine became available in the UAE in 2008.
"The best time for administering the vaccine would be before marriage, given the conservative community we live in," said Dr Suhail Al Salam, an associate professor and consultant pathologist at UAE University and the author of the research.
"And they must be given to men as well since the virus can spread both ways."
Dr Al Salam said vaccinations alone were not enough. Women should also undergo regular pap smears to detect cancer as early as possible.