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Public Health

Human papilloma virus (HPV)

For women in the EU aged 15-44, cervical cancer is the second most common form after breast cancer. Cervical cancer is caused by certain strains of human papilloma virus (HPV). In different studies, HPV was detected in more than 90% of cervical cancers.

There are vaccines that can prevent infection with the types of HPV that most commonly cause cancer. Countries with cervical cancer screening programs have substantially reduced cervical cancer incidence and deaths.

EU authorisation – three HPV vaccines

Following the green light from the scientific committee of the European Medicines Agency, the EU authorised the marketing of three HPV vaccines that prevent infections with the main strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer:

Work on HPV by the ECDC

The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) provides information on HPV and cervical cancer.

Cancer screening

HPV vaccines do not give 100% protection against cervical cancer and vaccination is not a replacement for routine cervical screening. National authorities are encouraged to carry out organised population-wide cervical screening by smear test before introducing HPV vaccination. This screening should take account of the European guidelines for quality assurance in cervical cancer screening and diagnosis.