Cervical Cancer Screening Programs in Europe: The Transition Towards HPV Vaccination and Population-Based HPV Testing
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Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequently occurring cancer in women around the world and can affect them during their reproductive years. Since the development of the Papanicolaou (Pap) test, screening has been essential in identifying cervical cancer at a treatable stage. With the identification of the human papillomavirus (HPV) as the causative agent of essentially all cervical cancer cases, HPV molecular screening tests and HPV vaccines for primary prevention against the virus have been developed. Accordingly, comparative studies were designed to assess the performance of cervical cancer screening methods in order to devise the best screening strategy possible. This review critically assesses the current cervical cancer screening methods as well as the implementation of HPV vaccination in Europe. The most recent European Guidelines and recommendations for organized population-based programs with HPV testing as the primary screening method are also presented. Lastly, the current landscape of cervical cancer screening programs is assessed for both European Union member states and some associated countries, in regard to the transition towards population-based screening programs with primary HPV testing.