Australia is set to be the first country to eliminate cervical cancer, aided by its national vaccination and screening programs, says a new study.
The country is on track to meet the threshold of four or less new cases per 100,000 women each year, effectively eliminating the cancer by 2028, finds the new study published Wednesday.
The cancer could be classified as “rare” as early as 2022, meeting a threshold of six new cases per 100,000 and deaths due to the diseases are expected to decline to one new case per 100,000 women by 2034.
But this is all contingent on Australia’s high vaccination coverage and screening being maintained, write the study authors.
“This is such exciting news for women across Australia,” said professor Karen Canfell, director of research at Cancer Council NSW, whose organization led the study.
“We’ve been leading the way in cervical cancer control for many years and we’ll be sharing our research and approaches with the rest of the world as part of a global push to eliminate this highly preventable cancer.”
An estimated 99.7% of cervical cancer cases are caused by infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses that spread though sexual intercourse and skin-to-skin contact around the genitals.
Australia was one of the first countries to introduce a national HPV vaccination program for girls in 2007, and it has since been extended to achieve high vaccination coverage across both sexes, according to the study. Its National Cervical Cancer Screening Program began in 1991.
In their new study, the researchers at Cancer Council NSW modeled data on HPV vaccination, natural history of the disease, and cervical screening to estimate the age-incidence of cervical cancer in Australia from 2015 to 2100.
Currently, Australia reports seven cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 women, according to the study.
As well as eliminating the disease within 20 years, the data showed…