03 Oct 2022

Figures on HPV-caused cancers highlight need for increased investment

The Irish Cancer Society has welcomed the latest short report from the National Cancer Registry (NCR), which highlights an increase in the rate of cancers related to the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), and has called for additional efforts and investment to both improve uptake of the HPV vaccination programme and to widen the programme to boys.

Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society, said: “This NCRI report on HPV-associated cancers puts a spotlight on the devastating consequences this virus can have on women and men. The vast majority of us will develop a HPV infection at some point in our lives, and for most this will be harmless. Sadly, though, according to the NCRI’s report, around 420 men and women in Ireland each year are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV infection. These HPV-caused cancers claim up to 130 lives each year.

“The fact that we now have a vaccine that can significantly reduce these cancer incidences and save lives should mean that these numbers will fall substantially in the coming years. However, reports that uptake of the vaccine among first-year secondary school girls, to whom it is offered for free, has dropped from 87% to as low as 50% in the space of two years, is hugely concerning. If this worrying trend is not reversed, women will continue to die needlessly from HPV-caused cancers.

“While 335 women are diagnosed with cancers caused by HPV each year, it is also important to note that 85 men in Ireland annually develop a cancer which could potentially be prevented by a simple and safe vaccination. While boys can avail of the HPV vaccine through their GP, for a fee, the Irish Cancer Society believes it is time for the Government to invest in the extension of the national HPV school vaccination programme to boys, so that as many lives as possible can be saved.”

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