Daily Mail

‘We can eliminate cervical cancer completely by 2040’

Momentous pledge by NHS as it rolls out more screening and jabs

- By Shaun Wooller Health Editor

THE health service will today make a ‘truly momentous’ pledge to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040 in a move that will save thousands of lives.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, will vow to achieve the ‘life-saving ambition’ by increasing uptake of the HPV vaccine and screening.

Around 2,700 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year and 850 die from it.

Human papillomav­irus refers to a group of viruses which can be transmitte­d through sexual contact and cause no symptoms. Around 13 high-risk types are known to cause 99.7 per cent of cervical cancers.

There is a vaccine for HPV which is given boys and girls when they are 12 to 13 and to those at high risk of disease. Under new plans, those eligible for the jab will be able to get it in more convenient locations such as libraries and sports centres – and more women will be offered the chance to self-test for infections in their own home.

The NHS is also working to improve its mobile phone app, so users will be able to view their full vaccinatio­n record and book in for ones they are missing.

Mrs Pritchard is due to tell health leaders today at the NHS Providers’ conference in Liverpool: ‘It is truly momentous to be able to set out such an important, life- saving ambition today – to eliminate cervical cancer would be an incredible achievemen­t and through a combinatio­n of our HPV vaccinatio­n programme, and our highly-effective cervical screening programme, it could become a reality in the next two decades.

‘To achieve our goal, we need as many people as possible to take up the offer, so please don’t delay – it could save your life.’ Since September, children have been receiving a single dose of the jab when they are in Year 8 rather than the two doses given previously.

Latest figures for 2021/22 show 86.5 per cent of girls and 81.5 per cent of boys had received one dose by Year 10. As well as tackling cervical cancer, the HPV vaccine helps prevent cancers of the mouth, throat, anus and genitals.

The NHS is working to drive up the number of women attending cervical screening appointmen­ts by making sure those who do not are sent reminders. Currently a third do not take up their offer.

NHS screening uses a highly effective test to check for high-risk HPV which may cause abnormal cells to develop in the cervix. These cells can, over time, turn into cancer if left untreated.

Pilot schemes that are exploring whether self- sampling could be introduced as part of screening will be expanded.

The World Health Organisati­on considers cervical cancer eliminated when the incidence rate is lower than four per 100,000 women. England is among the first countries in the world to set this ambition within the next two decades.

Dr Julie Sharp, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘We support NHS England’s target and pledge to save even more lives from cervical cancer.

‘Combined with screening, HPV vaccinatio­n could reduce cervical cancer to the point where almost no one develops it.’

‘Save even more lives’

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