India could be cervical cancer free in the next 60 years, claims a Lancet studyBY Aatika H Jain
Every eight minutes, a woman dies of cervical cancer in India. Cervical cancer accounts for 22.86 percent of all cancer cases in Indian women, making it the second most common cancer in women in the country. According to a recent Lancet study, India might eradicate cervical cancer completely by the year 2079 by expanding the current prevention programs, which includes HPV vaccination and cervical screening. The study states that in the next 50 years, there will be more than 44 million new cervical cancer cases in low-income and middle-income countries, increasing from 600,000 in 2020 to 1.3 million in 2069, if the prevention programs are not put into practice. However, if the primary and secondary prevention programs are scaled up by 2020, 12.5-13.4 million cervical cases can be averted by 2069.
This could also bring the average cervical cancer incidence down to four per 100,000 women in a year or even less, by the end of this century. This is a possible threshold to no longer consider cervical cancer as a critical public health issue. In countries like India, with medium human development level, this could be accomplished by 2070-79, as per research by the Cancer Council New South Wales, Australia, published in The Lancet Oncology journal. The study has illustrated that by 2100, 149 out of 181 countries could potentially eradicate cervical cancer as an important public health issue. In countries with high human development level, such as the US, the UK, Finland and Canada, cervical cancer is expected to be wiped out as a public health problem in 25-40 years. The Director-General of WHO called for a coordinated action to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem worldwide in 2018.
WHO has requested the international scaling up of HPV vaccination, cervical screening, pre-cancer treatment, early detection and timely treatment of early invasive cancers, and palliative care. Says Karen Canfell from the Cancer Council New South Wales: “Our findings suggest that global elimination is within reach, with tools that are already available, provided that both high coverages of HPV vaccination and cervical screening can be achieved. More than two-thirds of cases prevented would be in countries with low and medium levels of human development like India, Nigeria, and Malawi, where there has so far been limited access to HPV vaccination or cervical screening.” The countries with the lowest level of human development often have a higher rate of cervical cancer. Even if high coverage HPV vaccination and cervical screening twice in a lifetime could be realized, every country in Africa would not attain the threshold rate of fewer than four cases per 100,000 by the end of the century. A plan for a global strategy to boost eradication of cervical cancer with targets for the years 2020-30 will be contemplated upon at the World Health Assembly in 2020. “The WHO call-to-action provides an enormous opportunity to increase the level of investment in proven cervical cancer interventions in the world’s poorest countries. Failure to adopt these interventions will lead to millions of avoidable premature deaths,” says Campbell
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