Eliminating HPV-Caused Cancers in Europe: Achieving the Possible

23 March 2021

Article published in the Journal of Cancer Policy.



  • A European Cancer Organisation review found that a quarter of countries across the European region do not currently have a national HPV vaccination programme for girls and that just over half of countries do not currently, or have no plans to, vaccinate boys as well as girls.
  • A recent analysis of cervical cancer screening across 46 European countries by found that, with the exception of one country, all had a screening programme of some sort. But one third (35 %) had opportunistic programmes, meaning that their success depends on the initiative of individual women and their healthcare practitioner. Screening uptake is highly variable between and within countries, with rates varying from over 70 % in some EU member states to around 30 % in others.

  • Health literacy concerning HPV is a major barrier to progress. Many people currently lack basic knowledge about HPV and the associated risks. The European Cancer Organisation's report, Viral Protectioncites one study of men and women in the United Kingdom, where HPV vaccination for girls began in 2008 and systematic cervical cancer screening in 1988, which found that just over one third (37 %) had even heard of HPV.
  • The European Cancer Organisation’s HPV Action Network is actively supported by a large, diverse and growing group of professional and patient organisations with an interest in HPV prevention, early detection and effective treatment and has set out a four-step plan for the elimination of cancers caused by HPV across the European region based on gender-neutral vaccination, effective cervical cancer screening, equitably-delivered high-quality treatments, and action to improve public and professional awareness and education about HPV.
  • The World Health Organisation’s global strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer (November 2020) and Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan (February 2021), together provide a major opportunity to tackle decisively all the cancers caused by HPV. The Beating Cancer Plan contains two critically important ‘Flagship’ commitments related to HPV. One is on gender-neutral vaccination and the other on screening. The Plan additionally aims to tackle inequalities in access and outcomes for all cancers across Europe and to improve health literacy on cancer risks and prevention.


Read the full article here.