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He has a plan to eliminate cervical cancer

He has a plan to eliminate cervical cancer

When you calculate the actual hurdles we face to be able to completely eliminate this type of cancer, they're actually not very difficult, Joachim Dillner, a professor of infectious epidemiology at Karolinska Institutet, says on the Cancer Foundation's Glode podcast.

I don't think it should be so difficult

This is expected to be possible within just a few years. It is the HPV virus, which is behind the vast majority of cervical cancer cases. But there are vaccines that protect against infection. This means it is possible to stop an entire form of cancer by preventing the virus from spreading.

The research paid off

There are also effective tests to trace infection in women who have not been vaccinated. In Sweden, we have a so-called screening program where women are invited to have an HPV test or a gynecological Pap smear at regular intervals.

Thanks to cancer research conducted here and in many other countries, we have already come this far. I think this is excellent evidence that investing in cancer research really pays off, says Joachim Dillner.

Ensures that knowledge is useful

He has been researching the field of HPV and cervical cancer for many years, for example into the immunogenicity of the virus and how the virus is detected in testing.

At first I thought it would be enough for us to figure it out and publish it so everyone would know, but after a while I noticed that we had to work on implementation research.

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It feels like you're now in a relay race with knowledge, but when you get there you realize you have to run a few more laps with that stick. To make sure that knowledge really comes to its fullest potential.

It stops infection among the population

This is what he is working on now. The goal, therefore, is to eliminate the virus so that it does not remain and spread among the population.

But for more complex chronic diseases such as cancer, we can prevent the vast majority of cancer-causing viruses, but not all. There is an international limit to the so-called extinction limit for a type of cancer. It's less than 4 people per hundred thousand, and that's where we're headed.

He adds: I don't think it should be so difficult.

You are lecturing
– There are bound to be a number of people who are truly passionate and keep moving forward, so I hope I can be one of them, but this is not a personal effort by any means, but there are a lot of people who have really seen it here. We have a goal that we can achieve if we work Together, says Joachim Dillner.

Popular vaccination programme

Today, approximately twelve women out of every hundred thousand develop this type of cancer in Sweden, but now vaccines and cell sampling have been made available. The vaccine has been offered to girls in fifth grade since 2012, and since 2020 boys in the same age group have also been offered the vaccine at school.

…Then you can see that there's actually no chance.

It is a very popular vaccination program and annually 85 to 90 percent of children receive this vaccine. And if you look at the conditions for the virus to spread among populations with a high degree of immunity, you can see that it has no real chance.

If we are satisfied with that, HPV will probably have disappeared from Sweden by about 2040 when these people will be a little older.

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But in order to speed up the process of eliminating this disease, women born between 1994 and 1999 receive a free vaccine against HPV. HPV could then be eliminated as early as 2027 in Sweden.

Maybe we can be first in the world.

We leave no one behind

Woman with plaster on her arm

You born between 1994 and 1999 are currently offered the HPV vaccine for free. Together we can eliminate cervical cancer forever!

Read more about how to get vaccinated against cervical cancer.