The Throat Cancer Foundation supports health experts call for the elimination of HPV-caused cancers in Europe: The Time is Now!

The Throat Cancer Foundation and high level cancer experts from across Europe gathered in Brussels this week to make one united call to the European Union for 2020: Set a goal to eliminate cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV).

To help achieve this goal, the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) announced it is creating a new ‘HPV Action Network’, to bring all interested stakeholders together to steer the achievement of the elimination goal across Europe over the next four years.

“At a time when pen is yet to be placed on paper for the precise content of the European Cancer Mission and European Beating Cancer Plan, all ambitious and achievable goals in cancer policy must be considered. Eliminating HPV caused cancers as a public health problem in Europe is surely one such goal to shoot for”, said ECCO President-Elect Dr Matti Aapro.

Hosted by Professor Veronique Trillet-Lenoir MEP, the co-chair of the MEPs Against Cancer Group, the gathering of 60 specialists in the European Parliament heard widespread voicing of support for the achievement of the ECCO 2019 European Cancer Summit resolution: “By 2030, effective strategies to eliminate cancers caused by HPV as a public health problem should be implemented in all European countries.”

The evidence base for marshalling policy actions on HPV caused cancers was set out in the new ECCO document “Eliminating HPV-caused cancers and diseases in Europe: Case for action”.

  • • HPV is associated as a cause of around 5% of all cancers in women and men worldwide.
  • Whilst almost all causes of cervical cancer are associated with HPV, HPV is estimated to be associated with 70% of oropharyngeal cancers, 90% of anal cancers, 60% of penile cancers, 75% of vaginal cancers and 70% of vulval cancers.
  • HPV is also associated with several other cancers in the tissues of the head and neck. • Altogether HPV is thought to be responsible for about 53,000 new cases of cancer annually across 31 European countries, and 87,000 across the wider WHO European region.
  • • Yet HPV-caused cancers can be prevented by vaccination, ideally before exposure to the virus. However, most countries in Europe are not yet vaccinating both boys and girls, despite evidence of its effectiveness.
  • • Cervical cancer screening is provided in most EU countries, but not all. However, most countries to not yet offer HPV testing, now recognised to be the most effective screening method. Meanwhile, the uptake of screening varies widely across countries, as do treatment outcomes.

Case studies were then described at the meeting of the kind of effective actions against HPV caused cancers that can be taken at national level. This included reference to Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Turkey and elsewhere.
The meeting also heard from the pioneering work of the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO) in accelerating success in the battle against cervical cancer, as well as the contributions being made by urologists, nurses, pharmacists, radiation oncologists and other professions to continually improving cancer care for patients with cervical, oropharyngeal, anal, penile and other cancers.
The event and the launch of the ECCO HPV Action Network was kindly supported by the NOMAN is an Island: Race to End HPV Campaign, and the Throat Cancer Foundation.

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