Together we will beat cancer


A syringeThe news is buzzing today with the Government’s announcement that, from next year, schoolgirls will be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus – the virus that causes cervical cancer.

The vaccine programme will run in parallel with the current cervical screening programme for the foreseeable future, as it will take some time for the vaccine’s impact on cervical cancer to be seen.

Our CEO, Harpal Kumar, had this to say on the matter:

“This is an exciting step towards preventing cervical cancer in the UK. While the vaccine has the potential to prevent many cases of the disease, the impact of a vaccination programme won’t be felt for many years. Cervical screening remains vital in preventing the disease. We urge all women to take up the invitation when they receive it.

“The cervical screening programme is very effective. For women between 25 and 49, three yearly screening prevents 84 cervical cancers out of every 100 that would develop without screening.

“Cancer Research UK’s Screening Matters campaign encourages people to go for screening when invited, and to encourage friends and family to do the same.”

There’s an in-depth discussion of the HPV vaccine in the Behind the Headlines section of our News & Resources website.



Simon October 26, 2007

It’s absolutely fantastic news, and it looks like the government has even gone further than it’s own committee recommended, with the catch-up programme to age 18 rather than 16. Given that this will be expensive in the short term, and will have little impact on cervical cancer rates for 10-20 years, it’s a rare (and very welcome) example of long-term thinking from government.

With my usual ability to spot a cloud in every silver lining, I could predict one hell of a political battle somewhere down the line, when falling cervical cancer rates mean that screening for the disease will no longer be the best use of limited resources. But that’s several decades away yet, and who knows what other advances will have been made by then. In the mean time, let’s just celebrate the thousands of lives this vaccination programme will save.