Vaccines Europe welcomes the Council Recommendations on vaccine-preventable cancers

We welcome the Council Recommendations on vaccine-preventable cancers (VPC) adopted today, 21 June, which build on the European Beating Cancer Plan and constitute the next step towards eliminating vaccine-preventable cancers in Europe.  

“Elimination of vaccine-preventable cancers in Europe is an ambitious but achievable goal. It’s crucial to build on the progress already made and continue working together on this throughout the new mandate,” said Sibilia Quilici, Executive Director Vaccines Europe. 

To achieve this goal, it is critical to have comprehensive and timely data to inform evidence-based decision-making and policies. We fully support the significant emphasis on data in the Recommendations, and providing vaccination data in a digital, structured and reusable format. 

Furthermore, as reflected in the Recommendations, it is crucial to build the required infrastructure to equip EU Member States with the tools to work towards eliminating vaccine-preventable cancers. Up-to-date population-based vaccination registries would be one such important tool, which would provide valuable insights into the incidence of infection and cancer, as well as HPV and HBV vaccination coverage rates in all eligible populations.  

There were 4 million new cancer cases in Europe in 2020 – but we know that 40% of all cancers are preventable. Immunisation is proven to be a well-established cost-effective tool to reduce the incidence of cancers related to infection by human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV). 

Every year, there are 53,000 new cases of cervical cancer1 and 14,700 cases of anogenital cancers2 that can be attributed to HPV. Furthermore, HBV can cause liver cancer, which leads to 60,000 deaths among Europeans annually3 4.  

It is time to champion prevention across our health policies. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with all stakeholders towards the elimination of vaccine-preventable cancers in Europe. 


References:

1 – HPV Information Centre (2023), Human Papillomavirus and Related Diseases Report. Accessible at: https://hpvcentre.net/statistics/reports/XEX.pdf?t=1637596552197

2 – ECDC (2020), Guidance on HPV vaccination in EU countries: focus on boys, people living with HIV and 9-valent HPV vaccine introduction. Accessible at: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/sites/default/files/documents/Guidance-on-HPV-vaccination-in-EU-countries2020-03-30.pdf  

3 – ECDC (2017), Facts about Hepatitis B. Accessible at: https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/hepatitis-b/facts  

4 – MCS Wong et al, “International Incidence and Mortality Trends of Liver Cancer: A Global Profile”, 2017. Accessible at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5374459