It’s well established that cervical cancer is one of the most highly preventable diseases in the U.S. Now researchers say that cervical cancer could be nearly eliminated in the U.S. in about 20 years — or sooner — if 90 percent of eligible women are screened, a new study indicates.
The disease could be eradicated or become very rare by either 2038 or 2046, according to two computer models used by the researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. These models help researchers convert data into actual forecasts related to the incidence of diseases. Rates of cervical cancer in the U.S. have dropped by more than 50 percent since 1975 to 2015, in larged part to increased screenings.
The study, published in the journal, The Lancet Public Health, estimates that cervical cancer could be eliminated by as early as 2038, based on current rates of vaccination and pap smear screenings. Ensuring that 90 percent of women receive their screenings on schedule could cut that milestone by a decade to either 2028 or 2036.
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by strains of the human papillomavirus (HPV). In recent years, scientists have developed vaccines that can prevent infection from most of these strains. HPV vaccinations have already dramatically lowered the risk of cervical and other cancers linked to the virus.
In 2016, the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ACOG) revised recommendations for cervical cancer screenings, lowering the age to begin at age 21, and earlier for women who are younger than 21 and infected with HIV.
The American Cancer Society projects that about 13,800 new cases of invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in 2020. And about 4,290 women will die from cervical cancer.