A new immunisation scheme is likely to reduce the number of women requiring cervical cancer treatment
The government has announced that, as of September 2008, girls between the ages of 12 and 13 will be given a vaccine to protect against the human papillomavirus (HPV).
The vaccine protects against the main strains of the virus that account for around 70 per cent of cases of cervical cancer.
Health secretary Alan Johnson said: "Prevention is always better than cure and this vaccine will prevent many women from catching the human papillomavirus in the first place, potentially saving around 400 hundred lives a year."
Cancer Research UK's chief executive, Harpal Kumar, said: "This is an exciting step towards preventing cervical cancer in the UK."
However, he noted: "Cervical screening remains vital in preventing the disease.
"For women between 25 and 49, three-yearly screening prevents 84 cervical cancers out of every 100 that would develop without screening."