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Monday, 3 February 2020

Will cervical cancer be totally eliminated in the next century?

Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer in women in several Third World countries, and also affects many women in more developed countries. Caused by prolonged exposure to the human papillomavirus (HPV), it can be detected by screening smears and the HPV vaccine decreases the risk of developing cancer. According to an international team of researchers, if the combination of screening and vaccination is applied correctly, cancer of the cervix could be eradicated in a hundred years.

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Cervical cancer could be eliminated in the next century. This is the conclusion of two studies published in the journal The Lancet by an international consortium of researchers co-led by Professor Marc Brisson of the Faculty of Medicine at Laval University and the Research Center of the CHU de Québec-Université Laval. Researchers are even more optimistic about North America, saying the disease could be almost completely eliminated by 2040.

The study used the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination and uterine screening targets defined in the WHO draft strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer. The plan calls for 90% of women to be vaccinated against HPV by 2030. The plan also plans for 70% of women to be screened for cervical cancer once or twice in their lifetime, and 90% of women with precancerous lesions or cancer of the cervix receive appropriate treatment.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) observed under an electronic transmission microscope. Credits: Laboratory of Tumor Virus Biology

Screening and vaccination: a disappearance of cervical cancer over the next century

Researchers' analyzes show that with vaccination alone, cervical cancer cases will drop 89% in a century in the 78 countries most affected by the disease, with 60 million cancer cases averted as a result.

By adding the two screening tests and the treatment of precancerous cervical lesions, cervical cancer cases will drop 97% and 72 million cervical cancer cases will be prevented over the next century. In addition, with the extension of appropriate cancer treatment, 62 million deaths from cervical cancer will be prevented.

"For the first time, we have estimated how many cases of cervical cancer could be avoided if the WHO strategy was deployed and when elimination could occur. Our results suggest that to eliminate cervical cancer it will be necessary to achieve both high immunization coverage and a high rate of screening and treatment, especially in countries with a high burden of disease. higher,” says Brisson.

The results were used to develop the WHO cervical cancer elimination strategy to be presented for adoption at the World Health Assembly in May 2020.

"If the strategy is adopted and implemented by member states, cervical cancer could be eliminated in high-income countries by 2040 and around the world in the next century, which would be a phenomenal health win women. However, this can only be achieved with considerable international financial and political commitment, in order to extend prevention and treatment,” adds Brisson.


ARTICLE: Impact of HPV vaccination and cervical screening on cervical cancer elimination: a comparative modelling analysis in 78 low-income and lower-middle-income countries

Prof Marc Brisson,  Prof Jane J Kim, Karen Canfell, Mélanie Drolet, Guillaume Gingras, Emily A Burger

Published:January 30, 2020


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