Brussels, 10 December 2019: High level cancer experts from across Europe gathered in Brussels today to join forces and make one united call to the European Union for 2020: Set a common goal to eliminate cancers caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) as a public health problem in Europe. To help achieve this goal, the European CanCer Organisation (ECCO) announced it is creating a new ‘HPV Action Network’, to bring all interested stakeholders together to steer the achievement of the elimination goal across Europe over the next four years.
“At a time when pen is yet to be placed on paper for the precise content of the European Cancer Mission and European Beating Cancer Plan, all ambitious and achievable goals in cancer policy must be considered. Eliminating HPV caused cancers as a public health problem in Europe is surely one such goal to shoot for”, said ECCO President-Elect Dr Matti Aapro.
Hosted by Professor Veronique Trillet-Lenoir MEP, the co-chair of the MEPs Against Cancer Group, the gathering of 60 specialists in the European Parliament heard widespread voicing of support for the achievement of the ECCO 2019 European Cancer Summit resolution: “By 2030, effective strategies to eliminate cancers caused by HPV as a public health problem should be implemented in all European countries.”
The evidence base for marshalling policy actions on HPV caused cancers was set out in the new ECCO document “Eliminating HPV-caused cancers and diseases in Europe: Case for action”.
- HPV is associated as a cause of around 5% of all cancers in women and men worldwide. Whilst almost all causes of cervical cancer are associated with HPV, HPV is estimated to be associated with 70% of oropharyngeal cancers, 90% of anal cancers, 60% of penile cancers, 75% of vaginal cancers and 70% of vulval cancers. HPV is also associated with several other cancers in the tissues of the head and neck.
- Altogether HPV is thought to be responsible for about 53,000 new cases of cancer annually across 31 European countries, and 87,000 across the wider WHO European region.
- Yet HPV-caused cancers can be prevented by vaccination, ideally before exposure to the virus. However, most countries in Europe are not yet vaccinating both boys and girls, despite evidence of its effectiveness.
- Cervical cancer screening is provided in most EU countries, but not all. However, most countries to not yet offer HPV testing, now recognised to be the most effective screening method. Meanwhile, the uptake of screening varies widely across countries, as do treatment outcomes.
Case studies were then described at the meeting of the kind of effective actions against HPV caused cancers that can be taken at national level. This included reference to Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Turkey and elsewhere.
The meeting also heard from the pioneering work of the European Society of Gynaecological Oncology (ESGO) in accelerating success in the battle against cervical cancer, as well as the contributions being made by urologists, nurses, pharmacists, radiation oncologists and other professions to continually improving cancer care for patients with cervical, oropharyngeal, anal, penile and other cancers.
The event and the launch of the ECCO HPV Action Network was kindly supported by the NOMAN is an Island: Race to End HPV Campaign, and the Throat Cancer Foundation.
Event supported by:
Notes to Editor
- The European CanCer Organisation’s mission is to reduce the burden of cancer, improve outcomes and the quality of care for cancer patients, through multidisciplinarity and multiprofessionalism. As the not-for-profit federation of member organisations working in cancer at a European level, we convene oncology professionals and patients to agree policy, advocate for positive change and be the united voice of the European cancer community. www.ecco-org.eu
- The ECCO publication “Eliminating HPV-caused cancers and diseases in Europe: Case for action” is available on the ECCO website: www.ecco-org.eu. Key points raised in the document include:
• HPV-caused diseases can be prevented by vaccination, ideally before exposure to the virus.
• Vaccination is most effective if provided to both sexes. However, most countries in Europe do not yet vaccinate boys.
• Vaccination uptake remains low in some countries and needs to be improved.
• Cervical cancer screening is provided in most EU countries, but not all. Most countries do not yet offer HPV testing, now recognised to be the most effective screening method.
• ECCO is calling for urgent evidence-based action to eliminate cancers and diseases caused by HPV by the EU and all governments throughout the WHO European region.
- More information about the ECCO 2019 European Cancer Summit resolution on eliminating HPV caused cancers as a public health problem is available here.
- As part of its new strategy 2020-23, ECCO will be convening and facilitating a number of ‘Focused Topic Networks’ on over-arching thematic issues of high interest across the cancer community, and to which coordinated actions can achieve tangible results. The pilot Focused Topic Network is focused on the goal of achieving elimination of HPV caused cancers as a public health problem in Europe. Further information about the Focused Topic Networks is available via the contact details below.
- More information about the 'Mission possible: Eliminating cancers caused by HPV as a public health problem in Europe' event is available here. The full agenda of speakers is available here. The list of event attendees is here.
- ECCO applauds the EU and WHO actions on vaccination. More information about the Global Vaccination Summit is available here.
Interviews and quotes from speakers and stakeholders can be requested to the ECCO Communications and Community Manager Agnese Abolina on Agnese.Abolina@ecco-org.eu.
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