Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It killed an estimated 266,000 people in 2012 and 528,000 new cases were reported.
99 percent of cervical cancer cases are linked to Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and scientists are currently working on an early screening method to detect HPV and assess a person’s risk of contracting cervical cancer. Both HPV and cervical cancer are most common in women aged 15-44.
Although there are over 100 types of HPV, only 13 are known to be cancer-causing and strands 16 and 18 are responsible for approximately 70 percent of global cervical cancer cases. Thankfully, a vaccine against these two viruses has been developed and approved for use in an increasing number of countries. GSK’s vaccine was approved for use in China just last month.
Photo Source: Pierre Fabre
The research center for the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) discovered that 98 percent of women suffering from cervical cancer in Mexico are under the poverty line, initially surprising as cancer is a disease that hits regardless of socio-economic conditions. A shocking 85 percent of cervical cancer cases occurs in less developed regions.
By mid-2016, the WHO reports that 65 mostly developed and developing countries have introduced the HPV vaccine. Authorization of the vaccine is still pending in many low-income countries, although an increasing number are implementing it. This is however not the only obstacle to overcome. There are a number of common myths that some parents are listening to and refusing to give their daughters the HPV vaccine. These myths include the vaccine being unsafe, causing bad side effects, causing fertility problems, promoting earlier sexual activity in children and being effective only for a short number of years, thus making it useless for young children and preadolescents, all rumors refuted by the American Cancer Association. The high number of cases in regions and economic strata that do not administer the vaccine would indicate a link between cervical cancer and the HPV vaccine.
World Health Organization
Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica
Institut Català d’Oncologia, Human Papillomavirus and Related Diseases Report (2015)
American Cancer Society