Screening and vaccine could 'eradicate cervical cancer'

Cervical cancer could be eradicated within 50 years if countries implement national screening for HPV and vaccination, according to UK cancer expert Professor John Cuzick.

Speaking at the joint congress of the European Cancer Organisation (ECCO) and the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), Professor Cuzick said that the current vaccine could potentially eradicate up to three-quarters of cervical cancers (caused by HPV types 16 and 18), with some cross-protection against other, related HPV types (31, 45 and 33).

In addition, new vaccines are being planned that will vaccinate against nine HPV types; if successful, he said, there should be no need to screen women who have been vaccinated. Professor Cuzick, who is John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and head of department at the Cancer Research UK Centre for Epidemiology, Mathematics and Statistics, said that countries should be switching from Pap smears to HPV screening because 'overwhelming evidence' shows the latter is more effective.

Cuzick J. Oncopolicy session: Drug and lifestyle mediated prevention initiatives in Europe. ECCO 15 and 34th ESMO Multidisciplinary Congress, Berlin, 24 September 2009

Originally published in the December 2009 edition of MIMS Oncology & Palliative Care.

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