10th HPV Summit: A future without cervical cancer is a battle to be won

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This year’s 10th HPV Summit is themed “A Decade of Building an HPV and Cervical Cancer Free Philippines ” WINS was discussed under the direction of the Cervical Cancer Prevention Network of the Philippines (CECAP) in collaboration with the Asia & Oceania Federation for Obstetrics and Gynecology (AOFOG), the Philippine Obstetrical and Gynecological Society (POGS) and the Department of Health (DOH) . What’s Next and on the Way to Realizing the DOH Vision for a Cervical Cancer Free Philippines by 2040?

Cecilia Llave, Chairwoman of CECAP, and Dr. Ingrid Magnata, Country Manager at Jhpiego, discussed the 2020-2030 acceleration plan for a world without cervical cancer. To meet the goal of fewer than 4 cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 women by 2030, or 30 percent less mortality from the disease, a holistic approach is crucial. These include HPV vaccination, screening and treatment of pre-invasive diseases, and treatment of invasive diseases of cervical cancer, as well as symptom management and palliative care.

This goal is also supported by the DOHs Cancer Supportive Care and Palliative Care Medicines Access Program (CSPMAP). Dr. Magnata found that 9 out of 10 new cases of cervical cancer occur in low-to-middle-income countries (LMIC) where access to vaccinations and screenings is limited.

DOH

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes most cases of cervical cancer and precancerous cervical lesions. Genital HPV is a common virus that spreads primarily through skin contact during sexual activity and may not have any visible signs or symptoms. At least 14 types of HPV have been found to be carcinogenic. These HPV-related cancers and diseases are cervical cancer, vaginal and vulvar cancer, penile cancer, anal cancer, oropharyngeal cancer, and genital warts.

Cervical cancer is one of the types of cancer that can be prevented and treated by vaccines. According to Dr. Rosario Vergeire, Undersecretary of State for Public Health Services of the DOH, it is still the second most common type of cancer in Filipino women, alongside breast cancer.

Approximately more than 7,000 new cases and more than 4,000 deaths from cervical cancer are expected each year. It is estimated that 11 Filipino women die from cervical cancer every day.

DOH

Prof. Kazunori Ochai, President of the Asia-Oceania Federation for Obstetrics and Gynecology (AOFOG), emphasized that vaccination is still considered one of the most optimal strategies for protecting against HPV. He said regular screening is also highly recommended to help identify precancerous lesions caused by types of HPV not covered by current vaccination and to protect unvaccinated women from areas of poor coverage. This includes Pap smear or visual inspection with acetic acid, as well as treatments for precancerous lesions and cervical cancer in a single visit (SVA) approach.

An example of an effective immunization system supported by multi-stakeholder collaboration is the DOH’s free HPV vaccination for young girls aged 9-14 under the School-Based Immunization Program (SBI). This program has been switched to a community-based immunization program due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Once classroom teaching resumes, HPV vaccination will revert to the original implementation of the SBI protocol.

Dr. Patrick Tejano, Program Manager of the National Immunization Program of the NIP Program Manager Division of the DOH, emphasized the importance of receiving early immunization, especially for young women, before they are exposed to HPV. The HPV vaccine can help protect girls from the exposure to cervical cancer later in life.

The summit also noted that several health laws currently play an important role in the implementation of the holistic model of cancer treatment. The first is Universal Health Care (UHC) law, which states that every Filipino should be given eligibility and access to preventive, promotional, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care for medical, dental, mental and emergency health services. Another law is the National Integrated Cancer Control Act (NICCA), which provides the prevention and control of cancer by improving survival rates through programs such as primary prevention, early detection or early detection, rapid and accurate diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, survival care and rehabilitation be expanded and hospice care.

DOH

Dr. Mae Dolendo, a member of the National Integrated Cancer Control Council, discussed the NICCA updates. Dr. Dolendo announced that the Philippine Cancer Center (PCC), which will serve as the national specialty center for cancer, is due to open in 2025. The PCC administration office has already been set up.

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