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BRUSSELS, Belgium/RUGBY, UK: At the recent 2019 European Cancer Summit of the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO), the ECCO Oncopolicy Committee agreed on a resolution stating that, by 2030, all European countries should have effective strategies in place to eliminate cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). A disease can manifest many years after infection with HPV, which is the leading cause of oral cancer, particularly among young people, and incidence rates are rising steadily throughout Europe.
The resolution was developed by ECCO in conjunction with several of its member societies and a number of other external stakeholders and was preceded by a public consultation period earlier this year. The resolution supports the World Health Organization’s (WHO) self-described 90-70-90 targets, outlined in its draft Global Strategy Towards the Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem, which by 2030, aim to have:
- 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by 15 years of age;
- 70% of women screened with a high-precision test at 35 and 45 years of age; and
- 90% of women who are diagnosed with cervical disease receive treatment and care.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are associated with HPV, which also plays a role in nearly 70% of oral cancers. Although many European countries offer cervical cancer screening and widespread HPV vaccination programmes, several of these countries, including Germany and France, have reported a HPV vaccine uptake of less than 50%, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Several European countries, including Austria, Croatia and the UK, have recently extended their HPV vaccination programmes to cover adolescent boys as well as girls.
“HPV cancers and diseases affect hundreds of thousands of people across Europe every year,” said Dr Nigel Carter, OBE, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation.
“We now have an effective vaccination that can protect people against HPV, but despite this, most countries across Europe are not yet vaccinating both boys and girls,” he continued.
“In September, when the UK extended the HPV vaccination to boys, it was one of the most important and significant milestones in public health in recent times. It was a decision that will save thousands of lives. This now needs extending across Europe,” Carter concluded.
ECCO’s resolution on HPV can be accessed here.