Cervical cancer could be eliminated around world in next centuryHerson Abinon
Cervical cancer could be eliminated around world in next century.
Eradication marks ‘phenomenal victory for women’s health’, researcher says
Smear tests help to pick up early signs of cell changes ( Getty/iStock )
Cervical cancer could be eradicated across the world within the next century and almost wholly eliminated by 2040, a new study has found.
The vast majority of cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) – an infection that around eight in 10 people in the UK will contract but can now be vaccinated against.
It also calls for 70 per cent of women to be screened for cervical cancer once or twice in their lifespan and for 90 per cent of women with precancerous lesions or cervical cancer to get the treatment needed.
Researchers at the University of Quebec and Laval University discovered with just the vaccination alone, cervical cancer cases would fall by 89 per cent in the space of a century in the 78 countries that are most badly hit by the disease. Some 60 million cases of cancer would consequently be stopped.
But when taking into account the two screening tests and treatment of precancerous cervical lesions, cervical cancer cases will drop by 97 per cent and the next century will see 72 million cervical cancer cases prevented.
Professor Marc Brisson, of Laval University, said the elimination of cervical cancer would mark a “phenomenal victory for women’s health.”
He said: “For the first time, we’ve estimated how many cases of cervical cancer could be averted if WHO’s strategy is rolled out and when elimination might occur.
“Our results suggest that to eliminate cervical cancer it will be necessary to achieve both high vaccination coverage and a high uptake of screening and treatment, especially in countries with the highest burden of the disease.
“If the strategy is adopted and applied by member states, cervical cancer could be eliminated in high-income countries by 2040 and across the globe within the next century, which would be a phenomenal victory for women’s health. However, this can only be achieved with considerable international financial and political commitment, in order to scale up prevention and treatment.”
The study’s findings were used to draw up the WHO’s cervical cancer elimination strategy, which will be put forward for potential implementation at the World Health Assembly in May.
Robert Music, the chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “The elimination of cervical cancer is an exciting prospect. We know it is achievable however it is far from a done deal. There are many countries which do not have routine vaccination or screening programmes and achieving the WHO targets is going to take sustained international investment and political commitment.
“We must not become complacent in countries where there are established prevention programmes either. While studies such as this are promising, we must be careful they do not lead to reduced activity around cervical cancer prevention. Improving, innovating and optimising the reach of existing programmes must remain a priority.”
The HPV vaccine is now provided to children across the UK and expected to save many lives.
Cervical screening, commonly referred to as a smear test, helps to pick up early signs of cell changes in the cervix that can turn into cancer.
Last November, it emerged smear tests for cervical cancer that necessitate women to visit the doctor could be replaced by non-invasive DIY home sample urine kits.
Researchers found the “self-sampling” test was popular with those women who tried them out and could drastically boost the number of women taking part in cervical screening programmes if they were to become accessible to the public.
Data released by Cancer Research UK earlier in January found fewer than three-quarters of all women called in for cervical screening take up the invitation – with attendance rates for screenings even lower among women of younger ages and living in more deprived areas.
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