A Cancer that Could be Eliminated


doctor comforting patient

We have few vaccines that can prevent cancer, but one is here and could save the lives of 300,000 women a year.  Human papilloma viruses or HPV cause ninety percent of cervical cancers and the HPV vaccine can prevent it. Yet only a fifth of people get it.  

Cervical cancer arises in cells of the cervix, the lower, narrow part of the uterus that connects to the vagina. Nearly all sexually active people will become infected with one of the various strains of HPV.  In most cases, the immune system can clear the infection. In a small number of people, the virus persists. Of the more than 40 types of HPV that infect the genital, mouth, and throat areas of men and women; 13 cause cancer.  They linger and turn normal cells abnormal and become cancerous. HPV is behind more than ninety percent of anal and cervical cancers, seventy percent of vaginal and vulvar cancers, and sixty percent of penile cancers.

The World Health Organization plans to eliminate cervical cancer with a target year of two thousand one hundred twenty. To start with, ninety percent of girls must be vaccinated by age fifteen.  The CDC recommends all children get their first dose by age 12 and a second dose a year later.  The world is not on track to meet these targets.  Misinformation discourages people and some countries lack the funding.  We can’t let that dissuade us from getting our kids the vaccine and protecting their future health.  

We are Drs. David Niesel and Norbert Herzog, at UTMB and Quinnipiac University, where biomedical discoveries shape the future of medicine.   For much more and our disclaimer go to medicaldiscoverynews.com or subscribe to our podcast. Sign up for expanded print episodes at www.illuminascicom.com or our podcasts at:  Medical Discovery News (buzzsprout.com) 

More Information

Cervical cancer kills 300,000 people a year — here’s how to speed up its elimination
Without rapid change, the World Health Organization’s goals for tackling cervical cancer by 2030 will be missed. Four experts share ways to move the needle.

Global strategy to accelerate the elimination of cervical cancer as a public health problem
This global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer proposes a vision of a world where cervical cancer is eliminated as a public health problem, among other goals.