FEB 12, 2020 11:19 AM PST

Can we eradicate cervical cancer within a century?

Two studies recently published in The Lancet present evidence that the eradication of cervical cancer could be possible within the next century. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been dedicated to eliminating this cancer because of its high mortality rate. Despite the fact that there is a vaccine to prevent the disease, the WHO reports an estimated 570,000 new cases of cervical cancer globally.

The studies looked at the disproportionate mortality rates of the disease within low- and middle-income countries. Conducted by researchers affiliated with The WHO Cervical Cancer Elimination Modelling Consortium, they provide recommendations on how to best implement preventative measures in certain countries in order to lower mortality rates.

Professor Marc Brisson from Université Laval’s Faculty of Medicine in Québec, Canada led the Consortium’s research. Brisson and his team found that vaccinating girls from low- and middle-income countries against the human papillomavirus (HPV) could lead to an 89.4% reduction in cervical cancer cases over the next century.

Watch the video below to learn more about HPV and how it causes cervical cancer.

Additionally, explains the study, cervical cancer screenings also play a huge role in decreasing risk; according to the authors, being screened a mere two times in one’s lifetime can reduce the incidence of the disease by 96.7%, and avoid 2.1 million new cases.

“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,” says Professor Brisson. “Our results suggest that to eliminate cervical cancer, it will be necessary to achieve both high vaccination coverage and high uptake of screening and treatment, especially in countries with the highest burden of the disease.”

Putting both of these programs into action could hasten the time it takes to reach eradication of the disease, say the authors. But it will require international commitment.

New research suggests we could eradicate cervical cancer within the next 100 years through HPV vaccines and screenings. Photo: Pixabay

The researchers will present their findings on the WHO’s cervical cancer elimination strategy at the 73rd World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, in May 2020. “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,” says Professor Brisson. “However,” he urges, “this can only be achieved with considerable international financial and political commitment, in order to scale up prevention and treatment.

Sources: The Lancet (1) (2), Medical News Today

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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