The next step in stopping cervical cancer

We have achieved a great deal in fighting cervical cancer over recent years. I am proud to have been a long-time campaigner for comprehensive screening programmes and vaccinations against the HPV virus which can lead to cervical cancer, and I am really pleased to see the uptake of vaccinations and screening amongst girls and women across the EU.

But the battle is far from won. Cervical cancer is still one of the most common cancers for women and one that can strike much younger than other types. It will be many years before we see rates decrease as women who would have fallen victim to the disease are protected by the vaccination they received as teenagers. And, according to the World Health Organisation, HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that most people will acquire at some point in their life, which can cause a number of different infections and lead, in some cases, to cancer.

Of course the most cost effective way to prevent cervical cancer is to ensure that all girls are vaccinated, and we must continue to promote the vaccination of young girls, with uptake of the life-saving measure worryingly low in some places. We must also continue to stress the importance of regular screening for cervical cancer.

But if we are serious about eliminating HPV and the devastation it can cause we have to start thinking about our next steps. It is time that we seriously consider vaccinations for boys. I have long supported the idea, and recently the Centre for Disease Control in the US recommended the vaccine for males aged 11 and 12. If this strategy was also adopted by EU Member States it would not only drastically reduce the amount of women given HPV by a male partner, but also protect men from the danger the virus poses to their own health.

HPV can cause anal, oral and penile cancers in men, and men who have sex with men are at a particularly high risk. Recent reports have found that homosexual men can be twice as likely to suffer from cancer as heterosexual men, and greater exposure to HPV infection is undoubtedly a factor in that. Many men who want to be sexually responsible have already been vaccinated at their own expense, but perhaps it is time vaccination programmes included males.

Just as with girls, we know that the vaccine is most effective for boys if it is given at a young age, before they become sexually active. If all the girls in the classroom are given their HPV jab, why not protect the boys as well? It would protect them from the dangers of the virus, and protect those with whom they have sexual relationships in the future. It would also foster the idea that sexual health is the responsibility of both partners.

We have the tools at our disposal to stop cervical cancer and the other infections and cancers caused by the HPV virus. Now we just need to make sure we have the right policies in place to stop the unnecessary suffering and deaths, and male vaccination could be our next step.

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  1. Brooks Daichendt says:

    Cervical cancer nowadays is preventable unlike several years ago in which the mortality rate is very high for this disease. `

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  2. Dominick Ehrismann says:

    Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later.When cancer starts in the cervix, it is called cervical cancer. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus. The cervix connects the vagina (birth canal) to the upper part of the uterus. The uterus (or womb) is where a baby grows when a woman is pregnant.”

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