France Offers Early Christmas Present to European Battle Against HPV Caused Cancers

17 December 2019

The European Cancer Organisation today congratulated France’s national health technology assessment body for formally recommending that vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) be extended to boys as well as girls. French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn has already stated that she hopes that the 2020 vaccination schedule can incorporate gender-neutral HPV vaccination by the summer.

The change in policy is directly in line with recommendations published last week by the European Cancer Organisation in its newest publication: “Eliminating HPV-Caused Cancers & Diseases in Europe: Case for Action”.

Speaking about the latest development, President-Elect of the European Cancer Organisation, Dr Matti Aapro, said:

“There is now real momentum around realising the opportunity that exists before us: the potential elimination of HPV caused cancers as a public health problem in Europe if we only take the actions we know will work on vaccination, screening and treatment. Currently, HPV causes about 5% of all cancers worldwide.

France is now joining countries such as Ireland, the UK, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands and others in making the right move to gender neutral vaccination. The ECCO recommendation for ALL European countries to be signed up to gender-neutral HPV vaccination is achievable only if there is the necessary political will. For this reason, we are urging elimination of HPV caused cancers to be a shared European goal within the forthcoming European Beating Cancer Plan and EU Cancer Mission.”

Commenting on the development, Professor Véronique Trillet-Lenoir MEP (Renew Europe, France), Co-Chair of the MEPs Against Cancer (MAC) Group said:

"Vaccination against virus-induced cancers represents one of most disruptive and promising advances in cancer prevention of the last decade. It will allow a significant decrease (if not eradication) of uterine cervix cancers. The French government wants to go one step further and contribute to the total elimination of the HPV sexually-transmitted virus through an extended recommendation to young boys.

The French decision is a model for other European country and an incentive for the European institutions to promote more efficient and affordable vaccination policies for all citizens. Such an ambition requires a large mobilisation on education, fight against fake news and should be part of the forthcoming European Plan for Beating Cancers."


Notes to Editor

1. 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 speak up for the European cancer community.

2. The European Cancer Organisation's publication “Eliminating HPV-caused cancers and diseases in Europe: Case for action” is available here. 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.
  • The European Cancer Organisation 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.

The European Cancer Organisation kindly thanks NOMAN is an Island and the Throat Cancer Foundation for supporting the launch activity in the European Parliament for the Case for Action. More information about the event is available here.

3.More information about the recommendations of the France's health technology assessment body here.

4. The European Cancer Organisation is establishing a thematic network of its members, patient representatives and others to spearhead European level campaign activity towards the goal of eliminating HPV caused cancers as a public health problem. Early members to join the network include NOMAN is an Island and the Throat Cancer Foundation.