Eliminating Cervical Cancer – A New Reality

In this article, we discuss new research published in the Lancet which reaffirms that HPV vaccination prevents cervical cancer.

Cancer of the uterine cervix (Cervical Cancer) is one the most common cancers in women, especially in the developing world  (“cervix” = neck in Latin, refers to the narrow lower part of the uterus, as opposed to the “corpus” or body of the uterus which is the site of uterine cancer).

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can be identified in more than 99% of cervical cancers, and it is clear that HPV infection is a necessary prerequisite for developing cervical cancer – “No HPV, no cervical cancer”.

High-quality research published in the early part of this century showed that anti-HPV vaccines are safe and highly effective in preventing HPV infection. This led to the approval of HPV vaccination as a strategy to prevent cervical cancer.

However, since the development of cervical cancer only occurs after many years (or decades) of HPV infection, a reduction in cervical cancer rates after vaccination can only be seen after a correspondingly long time.

In 2008, the national HPV immunization program was rolled out in England.  A large volume of data was extracted this year (2021) and analyzed – 13.7 million-years of data! (number of women studied multiplied by number of years of follow-up).

The results, published in the Lancet this month, clearly show the enormous reduction in cervical cancer incidence among immunized girls compared to unimmunized (especially when immunized at a younger age).

HPV vaccination, therefore, has the potential to completely eliminate cervical cancer among our future generations.


Milena Falcaro, PhD , Alejandra Castañon, PhD, Busani Ndlela, PhD ,Marta Checchi, MSc ,Kate Soldan, PhD ,Jamie Lopez-Bernal, PhD ,et al. The effects of the national HPV vaccination programme in England, UK, on cervical cancer and grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia incidence: a register-based observational study.

Published: November 03, 2021. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)02178-4


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