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NEWS: Headlines from the ECCO event on HPV caused cancer elimination

Headlines from a recent ECCO event in the European Parliament, hosted by Professor Veronique Trillet-Lenoir (Renew Europe, France), the Co-Chair of the MEPs Against Cancer Group, focused on how to achieve the policy goal of eliminating HPV caused cancers as a public health problem in Europe.

Held on Tuesday 10th December 2019, the 'Mission possible: Eliminating cancers caused by HPV as a public health problem in Europe' event drew over 60 participants from multiple stakeholder communities, and heard from a range of ECCO member societies and others about the case for action on HPV caused cancer, including in respect to vaccination, screening and treatment improvements.

  • ECCO President-Elect Dr Matti Aapro indicated the strong fit of HPV cancer elimination to the Mission of ECCO of improving outcomes for cancer patients through multidisciplinarity. The achievement of any such goal will require dedicated efforts by a large range of healthcare professionals working in cancer care, and will mean bringing about the strongest multi-stakeholder team working across countries.
  • Two speakers (Dr Maria Kyrgiou, Associate Professor at Imperial College London & Dr Murat Gültekin, Gynae Oncologist, Co-Chair of the European Network of Gynaecological Cancer Advocacy Groups) from the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO) provided an overview of the level of opportunity scientific and technological developments now provide in respect to vaccination against cervical cancer and enhanced screening policies.
  • Maude Andersson, Board member of the European Cancer Patient Coalition and the Vice-President of Gynsam (Swedish Gynaecological Cancer Patients National Coalition), described successful case study initiatives from across Europe in combatting HPV caused cancers. She also drew attention to the need to address social stigmas that still pertain to these specific cancers due to the nature of their sexual transmission.
  • Dr Robert O’Connor, Head of Research for the Irish Cancer Society, outlined the success of Irish Government policy on achieving gender neutral HPV vaccination programmes, but also the challenge faced in combatting the deterrence effect of fake news about vaccination. A key lesson learnt has been the need for the strongest and promptest response from Government at the earliest sign of such problems emerging.
  • Dr Lucia Pastore Celentano, Head of the Vaccine Preventable Disease Programme at the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) expanded on the value of EU level cooperation, including in respect to the provision of European level guidance to member states on such actions as vaccination.
  • Professor Daniel Kelly, ECCO Board Member and Past President of the European Oncology Nursing Society (EONS), emphasised the multi-stakeholder and multi-professional efforts required to achieve the elimination of HPV caused cancers as a public health problem in Europe, and the benefits to be achieved via an ECCO led Network to marshal and coordinate joint advocacy in this regard.

In further interventions made during the meeting, ECCO members provided additional points for consideration.

  • Professor Hendrik Van Poppel, Adjunct Secretary General at the European Association of Urology (EAU), drew attention to the need for greater awareness of the serious impacts HPV caused cancers can have in the male population, including in respect of penile and other cancers.
  • Roman Gonec, Secretary of the European Society of Oncology Pharmacy (ESOP), highlighted the pharmacist role in improving treatment strategies for patients with HPV caused cancers.
  • Professor Gert De Meerleer, representing the European SocieTy for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) indicated the important role of radiotherapy in HPV caused cancers, and the emphasis that be made in centralising such treatment services to ensure the highest quality of care and the best potential outcomes.

The event was kindly supported by the NOMAN is an Island: Race to End HPV Campaign, and the Throat Cancer Foundation.

More information about the event, the ECCO ‘Call to Action’ document launched at the meeting, the event press release and photographs are available here.

For further information about the emerging ECCO HPV Action Network, and how to get involved, contact richard.price@ecco-org.eu

**ECCO is pleased to note that less than a week after this event, France’s national Health Technology Assessment body has formally recommended HPV vaccination now be extended to boys as well as girls. More information here **

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