A target to eliminate cervical cancer in Ireland

Dr Colm Henry HSE Chief Clinical Officer
Dr Colm Henry HSE Chief Clinical Officer

The Irish health services has set a bold target for the elimination of cervical cancer in Ireland, according to Dr. Colm Henry, HSE Chief Clinical Officer.

“By 2040, we aim to make cervical cancer a rare disease, which is defined as fewer than 4 cases per 100,000,” he said.

“High uptake of our cervical screening and HPV vaccination programmes are essential in achieving this. We need to have a HPV vaccination rate of 90% among girls by age 15, 70% screening uptake by age 35, and 90% of women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer disease receiving treatment.

“We have seen a marked decline in the number of people with cervical cancer since the introduction of our cervical screening programme in 2008. HPV cervical screening was introduced in 2020 as we know that HPV causes most cervical cancers.

“As with other viruses, vaccination can protect against HPV. Ireland introduced vaccination for girls in first year of secondary school in 2010 and the programme became gender-neutral in 2019. The Laura Brennan HPV Vaccine Catch-up Programme was also introduced in 2022 to provide the vaccine to people who hadn’t received it in school. I would like to acknowledge the selfless work of Laura and her family in encouraging people to get the vaccine to help protect against cervical cancer – their actions serve as an inspiration to all of us to ensure that the programme benefits as many people as possible.

“Recent research shows the positive impact the HPV vaccine has had in reducing the rate of serious pre-cancer cervical disease. However, we need to do more to increase our HPV vaccination rates from 80% to the WHO target of 90%.

“Significant work has been done to date to achieve this vision and we will continue to work together towards elimination of cervical cancer.”