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The state of HPV prevention programmes in Europe

The opportunity to eliminate HPV cancers is one which is gaining support at the national and global level.

In 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a global strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer by 2030. Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, published in 2021, has gone even further with its ambition to eliminate all HPV cancers and through its endorsement of gender-neutral HPV vaccination programmes.

‘Putting HPV on the Map: The State of HPV Prevention Programmes in the WHO European Region’, published during European Immunisation Week, is a new report, and the first of its kind, which examines the state of HPV prevention across the WHO European region (WHO EURO).

Supported by a grant from NOMAN is an Island, European Cancer Organisation’s Action Now on HPV project aims to support the implementation of effective vaccination and screening by identifying current policy, practice, implementation and gaps in the delivery of HPV vaccination programmes and screening across WHO EURO. This data collection and analysis will in turn inform our strategy to implement change in the region; identifying the countries in which we can support and encourage HPV advocacy, and in turn build towards the elimination of HPV related diseases.

HPV causes 100,000 cancers a year in WHO EURO; cancers which we can prevent through gender neutral HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening. To do so would be a world leading example of how ambition and action can combine to eliminate cancer.

‘Putting HPV on the Map’ was produced by the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) who were commissioned to produce a technical report that summaries the status of HPV prevention in Europe through a range of indicators including vaccination, cervical cancer screening, and HPV disease burden based on official WHO estimates.

Some of the key findings from the report are detailed below:

HPV cancers age-specific incidence and mortality rates in WHO EURO

- In WHO EURO, each year there are 66,821 new diagnosed cervical cancer cases and 30,608 deaths

- The highest incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer are in Eastern Europe, with the Russian Federation accounting for approximately 1 in 4 new cervical cancer cases and deaths in WHO EURO.

- HPV causes approximately 21,000 cancers of the vagina, vulva, penis and anus in men and women each year.

- Head and neck cancers in the region are increasingly, particularly in men. However, the percentage of oropharynx cancer cases attributable to HPV among WHO EURO member ranges from 10%-70% (the CDC in the USA attributes 70% of oropharyngeal cancers to HPV). In addition, the inclusion of lip cancers, and cancers of the oral cavity make it difficult to estimate the true burden of head and neck cancers in the region.

HPV prevalence in women and men in WHO EURO

Survival rates for HPV related cancers in WHO EURO

*RS = Relative Survival

- 5 year RS in Eastern Europe f