Eliminating cervical cancer across the UK could save £2.6 billion, new research finds

January 2024

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The UK could save £2.6 billion by achieving the WHO global targets for cervical cancer by 2046, landmark new research reveals.

An estimated 3,200 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the UK every year – nine women every day. 99.8% of cervical cancer cases in the UK are caused by HPV, which means that nearly every case of cervical cancer is preventable[i].

Under its global call to action towards elimination, the WHO has set a target incidence of 4 cases of cervical cancer per 100,000 women, to be achieved by countries ensuring that 90% of girls receive human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination by age 15, 70% of women access cervical screening aged 35 and 45, and 90% of women with pre-cancer and invasive cancer are appropriately treated and managed[ii]. According to the new report – undertaken by OHE and fully funded by MSD – the UK is anticipated to hit these targets by 2046, which would lead to a 23% reduction in the socioeconomic burden of cervical cancer between 2023 and 2046.

The new research comes soon after NHS England’s November announcement that it would be pursuing the elimination of cervical cancer by 2040, noting the potential to save thousands of lives [iii]. And the NHS Vaccination Strategy published in December puts England one step closer to elimination through a range of commitments to improve HPV vaccination coverage rates[iv].

But progress is not guaranteed and there is still a long road to elimination: the latest vaccine coverage data for the routine school-aged HPV immunisation programme in England for the 2022/23 academic year shows that whilst have been some gains, coverage is still behind that recorded pre-COVID-19 pandemic [v].

The report authors call on governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to follow England’s lead in pledging to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040 – thereby accelerating the path to elimination across the UK and ensuring equality and consistency in the approach to elimination between the four nations.

To download a copy of the report, click here.

Ben Lucas, Managing Director, MSD UK & Ireland, who commissioned the research, said:

“At MSD, we are dedicated to inspiring country-wide action towards elimination by showcasing the success of areas already hitting WHO targets at the local and national levels. The OHE’s findings on the socioeconomic benefits of eliminating cervical cancer add even more impetus to the race to elimination, but we cannot forget the huge personal impact of this mission. The OHE rightly note the critical importance of overcoming existing inequalities in access to HPV vaccination and cervical screening if we are to make a success of elimination, and I am delighted to see the report set out recommendations on how elimination might work for every part of society.”

[i] Cancer Research UK, Cervical cancer statistics. Last accessed December 2023, available from:

[ii] World Health Organization, Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative. Last accessed December 2023, Available from:

[iii] NHS England, NHS sets ambition to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040, 15 November 2023. Last accessed December 2023, available from:

[iv] NHS England, NHS Vaccination Strategy, December 2023. Last accessed December 2023, available from:

[v] UK Health Security Agency, Official Statistics: Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination coverage in adolescents in England: 2022 to 2023. Last accessed January 2023, available from:

GB-NON-08825 | January 2024