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NHS pledges to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040

NHS England is expanding the rollout of the HPV vaccine and screening processes in a bid to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040.

NHS England is expanding the rollout of the HPV vaccine and screening processes in a bid to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes up to 99% of cervical cancers, but thankfully, we now have a vaccine that is 90% effective in preventing cervical cancer and cell changes that could lead to cancer.

Nearly all cases of cervical cancer are preventable

One in 142 UK females will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in their lifetime, yet 99.8% of cervical cancer cases in the UK are preventable.

To eliminate cervical cancer by 2040, the NHS needs to ensure as many people as possible are being vaccinated against HPV, while also coming forward for cervical screening.

Currently, the HPV vaccine, which can also prevent some mouth and throat cancer, is given to secondary school pupils to protect them against the virus.

Under the new campaign, healthcare professionals will be supported to identify and reach out to those most at risk of HPV, and offer jabs in convenient settings, such as libraries, community centres and leisure centres.

Vaccinations will also become part of a ‘one-stop shop’, with NHS staff set to expand the offer of blood pressure tests and other health checks and advice, alongside routine vaccinations.

Self-sampling to be trialled as part of screening efforts

The NHS also invites women over the age of 25 for cervical screening once every three years until the age of 49. From 50 onwards, screening occurs once every five years.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of the NHS in England says more women than ever before will now be invited for screening, and self-sampling is being trialled to determine if it could be introduced as part of national screening.

Speaking at NHS Providers’ annual conference, Pritchard said: “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 in the next two decades.

“Vaccination and screening are the key tools which mean we are one step closer to achieving this, and the NHS is already making it easier than ever before for people to protect themselves and their families – whether it’s through community outreach in areas of lower uptake or expanding the NHS app so that everyone has their vaccine history and booking options in the palm of their hand.”

Ms Pritchard is now urging the public to come forward for their vaccines and screening appointments when invited.

“To achieve our goal of eliminating cervical cancer, we need as many people as possible to take up the offer, so please don’t delay – it could save your life,” she said.

Programme must be backed by sufficient resource and modern IT infrastructure

The campaign will make England the first country in the world to set this elimination ambition within the next two decades.

Cancer Research UK says it supports the NHS in its mission to eliminate HPV but warns that barriers to accessing the vaccine and screening programmes must be considered.

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health and patient information at the charity 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.

“To ensure everyone has equal access to these life-saving programmes, there must be targeted action to increase HPV vaccination coverage and reduce barriers to cervical screening. This ambition will only be possible if the vaccination and screening programmes are backed by sufficient resource and modern IT infrastructure.”

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