NHS England pledge to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040
Have you heard the news? Cervical cancer is the first cancer to ever face elimination. NHS England have now vowed to make this happen in the UK by the year 2040! 10zyme are thrilled that the UK is ready to take action and follow similar protocols. The NHS have made plans to increase both HPV vaccination uptake and cervical screening uptake to attain this goal. However, at 10zyme we ask is this going to be enough?
Whilst it is great that NHS policy makers are listening to the experts on cervical cancer, they have been slow out of the gate. “We should take notice of what countries like Sweden have achieved. They have already implemented self-sampling for screening”, says our CEO & Founder, Dr Angela Pine. Indeed, Australia and Sweden are on course to eliminate cervical cancer before 2030 [1, 2].
As an HPV and HPV-related cancer researcher Angela sits on the UK HPV Coalition, and has been speaking to policy makers regarding the roadmap for elimination of not just cervical cancer, but all HPV-related cancers.
She goes on to say, “We are missing a trick by not ensuring the messaging around HPV goes beyond just cervical cancer and girls. Boys too are affected by this virus, they get HPV-related cancers such as head and neck, and anal cancer after all!”. With incidence of both these gender indiscriminate cancers on the rise in the UK, the need to make the public aware of HPV’s role is crucial.
Human papillomavirus (HPV), is the most common sexually transmitted infection in men and women. It is estimated around 80% of individuals will contract HPV at some point in their lifetime, but the infection is usually harmless and will go away on its own. However, some types of HPV such as HPV 16 and 18, known as high-risk HPV, can lead to the development of gynaecological cancers (cervical ovarian, uterine, vaginal, and vulvar) and also cancers of the head and neck, and anal cancer.
Currently in the UK, a HPV vaccination programme is rolled out to school children aged 12-13. However, recent years have seen vaccination rates plummet in England with only 67.3% of eligible girls immunised in 2021/22, compared to pre-COVID coverage of consistently over 80%.
“It is vital we get the message out that the HPV vaccine is crucial for the long term health of our children” says Angela. If your child has missed their vaccination you can arrange for them to get it later through their GP until the age of 25.
The vaccination has so far proved very successful, leading to an 87% decrease in cervical cancer incidence for women in their 20’s . To make the HPV vaccination programme even more effective and accessible, the NHS have plans to create an app for vaccination history and options to book a vaccination if required. Suggestions to offer vaccinations in locations other than just a GP surgery have also been put forward, such as libraries, leisure centres and other community centres to make the vaccination more accessible.
Increasing the uptake of cervical screening is also required to eliminate cervical cancer entirely. In the UK, women are invited to attend cervical screening every 3 or 5 years depending on their age. Cervical screening saves approximately 5000 lives each year by detecting cell changes and cervical cancers at their early stages to be treated efficiently and appropriately. However, reports show that approximately 1 in 3 women do not attend their routine cervical screening, which is worrying being the crucial element to cervical cancer prevention. Some deterrents to cervical screening may include:
- Discomfort during the screening process
- Busy schedules i.e., child and work commitments
- Worry what the test may find 
It is now vital for the NHS to address these practical and emotional barriers and minimise them as much as possible to significantly increase the uptake of cervical screening. Increasing cervical screening uptake is a major step in the elimination of cervical cancer, so we really hope the UK government commits to their pledge and works harder in supporting people to make and attend their appointments.
More needs to be done
So, improvements in the HPV vaccination programme and further encouragement for cervical screening are the focal point for the pledge, but we believe the only way to truly eliminate cervical cancer nationally is to offer a third alternative to protection, and that’s self-sampling. Self-sampling removes the need to book and attend a cervical screening appointment, and samples can be taken at any time, any place. It offers more autonomy, privacy and confidentiality with HPV testing and can be done in minutes.
10zyme are offering an at-home HPV testing and results kit so individuals don’t need to attend cervical screening appointments to know their cervical health
10zyme are developing the first ever non-invasive, at-home HPV test and results kit to make detection of HPV a whole lot more convenient and accessible. Whilst HPV self-sampling already exists, samples still need to be sent to a lab to be examined which can be expensive and can take weeks to come back, just as results for in-person cervical screening do. There have been recent reports in Northern Ireland that screening test results have been taking up to 6 months! We believe this can impact one’s mental health detrimentally, and the well-being of individuals is at the forefront of our principles.
To address this, 10zyme’s test and results kit allows you to sample yourself in a non-invasive way meaning it’s pain-free, and it will provide results in just 15 minutes. We believe our diagnostic is absolutely crucial in making the 2030 elimination deadline and can help millions of individuals nationally feel more in control of their cervical health and become aware of their HPV status without all of the fuss.
Knowing your cervical health is not a privilege, it’s a right.
To learn more about how 10zyme are developing their user-friendly diagnostic that will aid individuals globally in cervical cancer prevention, please visit www.10zyme.com
Cervical cancer and HPV prevention is a huge thing for us, which is why, along 10zyme, we have also created ‘The Prevention Revolution’. The Prevention Revolution creates awareness of HPV and HPV-related cancers with the ultimate mission of cervical cancer elimination. Read more about this mission and find out how you can become a Preventionist by visiting www.10zyme.com @10zyme and @thepreventionrevolution on socials.
 Hall, M. T., Simms, K. T., Lew, J. B., Smith, M. A., Brotherton, J. M., Saville, M., ... & Canfell, K. (2019). The projected timeframe until cervical cancer elimination in Australia: a modelling study. The Lancet Public Health, 4(1), e19-e27.
 Dillner, J., Elfström, K. M., & Baussano, I. (2021). Prospects for accelerated elimination of cervical cancer. Preventive Medicine, 153, 106827.
 Palmer, T., Wallace, L., Pollock, K. G., Cuschieri, K., Robertson, C., Kavanagh, K., & Cruickshank, M. (2019). Prevalence of cervical disease at age 20 after immunisation with bivalent HPV vaccine at age 12-13 in Scotland: retrospective population study. bmj, 365.
 Waller, J., Bartoszek, M., Marlow, L., & Wardle, J. (2009). Barriers to cervical cancer screening attendance in England: a population-based survey. Journal of medical screening, 16(4), 199-204.