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Earlier Elimination of Cervical Cancer Projected in Low-Poverty U.S. Counties

Increasing HPV vaccine coverage would reduce excess cancer cases, but it would not affect the time required to reach near-elimination

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FRIDAY, Sept. 10, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Models predict that near elimination of cervical cancer will be reached earlier in low-poverty versus high-poverty counties in the United States, according to a study published online Sept. 9 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Jennifer C. Spencer, Ph.D., from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues examined the effects of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination on cervical cancer incidence in a dynamic simulation model of HPV infection, calibrated to reflect average counties in the highest and lowest quartile of poverty and including data on HPV prevalence, cervical cancer screening, and HPV vaccination. Cervical cancer incidence was projected through 2070, and incidence was compared with the near-elimination target (four cases per 100,000 women annually).

The researchers estimated that near-elimination targets will be achieved 14 years earlier, on average, in low-poverty versus high-poverty counties (2029 versus 2043). Absolute disparities by county poverty are expected to decrease, but the relative differences are estimated to increase. Over the next 50 years, 21,604 cumulative excess cervical cancer cases are estimated in high-poverty counties. Excess cancer cases would be reduced by increasing HPV vaccine coverage nationally to the Healthy People 2020 goal (80 percent), but this would not alter the estimated time to reach the near-elimination threshold.

"Vaccination can do a lot of good, but it's unlikely that the disparities can be addressed through just vaccination," Spencer said in a statement. "The next step is to identify what policies we can use to close these gaps in the future."

Two authors disclosed ties financial to the pharmaceutical industry.

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