Elimination of cervical cancer ‘in our sights’, charity says

‘We have the tools to do so with vaccination and screening, but we have a mountain to climb on the way there,’ says Samantha Dixon

<p>A doctor administers an HPV vaccine to a teenage girl in Miami</p>

A doctor administers an HPV vaccine to a teenage girl in Miami

The success of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine means the elimination of cervical cancer is “in our sights”, according to a charity.

Deaths among women under 30 could be almost non-existent by 2045, while new diagnoses are expected to be less than one-third their current rate. Cases among women aged between 35 and 39 are predicted to halve in England.

Currently, the country sees about 2,600 cases and 700 deaths a year, with women between 30 and 34 the worst hit.

However, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust warned there was still “a mountain to climb” to build and maintain widespread coverage for the inoculation.

In addition, attendance at screening examinations has been declining in recent years, and if this trend continues disease among older, unvaccinated women could skyrocket.

New modelling by King’s College London suggest that under this scenario, in 2041-45 the rate of cervical cancer cases among the over-60s will have risen from 10.1 cases for every 100,000 women to 17.2 per 100,000.

Meanwhile, deaths are set to double among 60- to 64-year-olds increasing from 3.0 to 7.4 per 100,000 population and from 4.1 to 9.6 for 65- to 70-year-olds.

Health leaders must not become complacent, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust warned.

The KCL modelling found if screening uptake rates declined from the current coverage of 86 per cent to, for example, 70 per cent, then by 2041-45 cancer rates in 25- to 29-year-olds could double.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust called on the UK government to ensure it continues to invest in and promote cervical screening, which will help older women not protected by the vaccine.

Samantha Dixon, its chief executive, said: “It is so exciting to have eliminating a cancer within our sights. We have the tools to do so with vaccination and screening, but we have a mountain to climb on the way there.

“Now is not the time for complacency. Among older generations, where we have seen falling cervical screening attendance, we instead will see a dramatic rise in cases coming through. Cervical screening, and being aware of the symptoms of cervical cancer, remains the best protection for anyone who has not had the vaccine.

“We urge governments to put cervical cancer elimination in their strategies and to invest in the resources and technology to reduce inequalities and ensure we are providing the most effective programmes possible.”

Dr Edward Morris, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, added: “It is so positive to see such a huge impact from the HPV vaccination programme in England, with a recent study showing that since it started cervical cancer rates in women have dropped significantly.

“What we must not forget however is that there are many women and people out there who didn't receive the vaccine. It's crucial that while the HPV vaccination programme is making huge leaps to eradicate cervical cancer, the UK government continues to invest in cervical screening and promote its importance.”

It comes as the World Health Organisation highlighted that globally just 13 per cent of girls aged nine to 14 years old were vaccinated against HPV in 2020.

The global health body said that around 80 countries were yet to introduce the vaccine, and called for action to eliminate the “almost completely preventable” cancers.

Additional reporting by PA Media

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in