A recent study published in the Lancet Public Health Journal in October 2018 found that Australia may eliminate cervical cancer by 2035 if the elimination threshold of four new cases per 100,00 women is reached. The current annual rate of cervical cancer in Australia is seven cases per 100,000 people.
Researchers used the Policy1-Cervix model to estimate the age-standardized incidence of cervical cancer in Australia from 2015 to 2100. The study predicts that the incidence will decrease to fewer than six new cases per 100,000 women between 2018 and 2022 and to fewer than four new cases per 100,000 women between 2021 and 2035.
The researchers also considered two possible scenarios in their model for the cohorts who have and will be offered the nonvalent vaccine: either the cohorts would continue screening for human papillomavirus (HPV) every five years, or no screening is offered. Based on the possible scenarios in the study, it estimates that by 2066 (between 2054 and 2077), the annual incidence of cervical cancer will decrease and plateau at less than one case per 100,000 women if screening continues and fewer than three new cases per 100,000 women if the cohorts are not screened.
The study has noted that to reach the elimination threshold, high-coverage vaccination and screening will have to be maintained. Australia may be one of the first countries to reach elimination of cervical cancer due to its national prevention programs. The National HPV Vaccination Program was introduced in 2007 to girls and later to boys in 2013. Almost all Australian schools have accepted the free school-based program.
In December 2017, Australia’s National Cervical Screening Program started replacing the Pap test for people ages 18 to 69 with a five-year HPV test for people ages 25 to 74. The change was due to the cervical screening test being more effective than the Pap test at preventing cervical cancer because it detects HPV. A decrease in the annual incidence of cervical cancer based on the HPV vaccinations may also reduce the number of new cases of penile and anal cancers in men, which are also linked to HPV.