Currently, 1 in 142 females will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in their lifetime. On average, around 3,000 diagnoses are made in the UK each year, and whilst more than 2,000 of those patients will have a positive outcome, sadly around 800 will result in death.
We were therefore delighted to hear the news that cervical cancer could be eliminated by 2040. As a result of regular screening, these frightening statistics we hope will be a thing of the past and 800 families will avoid the loss of loved ones, and 3,000 women will avoid the arduous treatment to fight this awful disease.
It is predicted that the disease will be eliminated as a result of the Human Pappilomavirus (HPV) vaccination and regular cervical screening. HPV causes 99% of cervical cancers so the vaccine has been a huge development in the fight against cervical cancer.
I recall being in the first cohort receiving the HPV vaccines at school in 2008 and since then, there has been an 87% reduction in cancers in this group which I consider is a great success.
This does, however, highlight the importance of continuing with regular cervical screening appointments and the programme relies on a good uptake of young women having the vaccine as if this diminishes, the 2040 goal will not be achievable.
In England, screening via a smear test is offered in England every three years to women aged 25 to 49 and every five years between 50 and 64 and currently around 86% of girls and 81% of boys are getting the HPV vaccine. However, screening is invasive and many people avoid regular screening. It is essential that everyone engages with the screening programme, which usually results in a positive outcome, but increases the changes of identifying any changes early.
I’m sure many women will be relieved to read this news today, but the work still needs to be done over the next 17 years to succeed.
To find out more on cervical screening, HPV stories and how you can help to make cervical cancer a thing of the past, Jo’s Trust provides helpful guidance and support and details can be found here: Campaign | Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust (jostrust.org.uk)
How we can help
If you have been affected by Cervical Cancer and you are concerned you may have suffered a delay in diagnosis, please contact our specialist medical negligence team.