Cervical cancer can be found anywhere within the cervix. It is currently the fourth most common cancer in women, with a five-year survival rate of 66%. Cases are largely caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Globally, cervical screenings help prevent the development of cervical cancer by assessing cervical cells for abnormalities and testing for HPV.
Certain strains of HPV are estimated to cause more than 70% of cervical cancers, which can be prevented with the HPV vaccine. In November last year, the Lancet published a study showing how England’s national HPV vaccination programme was highly successful in decreasing the risk of developing cervical cancer. The vaccination programme focused on vaccinating girls between the ages of 12–13, and results showed a substantial reduction in cervical cancer and incidence of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia III (CIN3) in young women. Global immunisation with HPV vaccines has been low, with a recent PubMed study showing that global immunisation coverage is 12.2%. The US’ vaccination programme has also led to declines in infections among both vaccinated and unvaccinated women and girls.
According to GlobalData’s Clinical Trials Database, China dominates ongoing and planned trials, hosting 23.0% of them, followed by the US with 15.4%. China created a national screening programme in 2009, but according to data published by the WHO, only two in ten women in China have been screened for cervical cancer in the last five years. Globally, many women put off attending cervical screenings due to the potential discomfort or fear of possible outcomes, even though nationwide screening is key for cancer detection.