Cervical cancer: 60m lives could be saved

Australian and international researchers conclude that over the next 100 years, more than 74 million cervical cancer cases and 60 million deaths could be averted.

The studies

The first study, published in The Lancet, modelled the progress that could be made towards eliminating new cervical cancer cases by introducing or increasing the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccination coverage. Another option was to combine high levels of vaccination with cervical screening, once or twice in a woman’s lifetime.

The second study included cancer treatment in its models alongside other variables, analysing the impact of vaccination, screening and treatment on reducing deaths.

Both studies focused on 78 low-income and lower-middle income countries (LMICs).

“For the first time, we’ve estimated how many new cases of cervical cancer could be averted if WHO’s (World Health Organization) triple intervention strategy is rolled out and when elimination could be achieved,” said Professor Marc Brisson from Laval University, Canada, who co-led both studies.

The results

“Our results suggest that to eliminate cervical cancer by the end of the century it will be necessary to achieve both high HPV vaccination coverage and high uptake of screening, especially in countries with the highest rates of the disease.”

The results predict that vaccination alone could reduce the number of cervical cancer cases by 89% over the next century, averting 60 million cases in LMICs.

However, countries with an incidence today of more than 25 cases per 100,00 women could not eliminate the disease with HPV vaccination alone, using WHO’s proposed threshold of cervical cancer elimination (four or fewer cases per 100,000 women).

The second study, which included the use of the triple strategy, proved that by 2030, around 300,000 deaths could be averted. By 2070, it could avert 14.6 million deaths.

“Our findings emphasise the importance of acting immediately to combat cervical cancer on all three fronts,” said Adjunct Professor Karen Canfell from Cancer Council NSW and the University of Sydney, who co-led both studies.

“In just 10 years, it’s possible to reduce death rates from the disease by a third and, over the next century, more than 60 million women’s lives could be saved.”

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