Modeling cervical cancer prevention in developed countries

Vaccine. 2008 Aug 19;26 Suppl 10(Suppl 10):K76-86. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.06.009.


Cytology-based screening has reduced cervical cancer mortality in countries able to implement, sustain and financially support organized programs that achieve broad coverage. These ongoing secondary prevention efforts considerably complicate the question of whether vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 should be introduced. Policy questions focus primarily on the target ages of vaccination, appropriate ages for a temporary "catch-up" program, possible revisions in screening policies to optimize synergies with vaccination, including the increased used of HPV DNA testing, and the inclusion of boys in the vaccination program. Decision-analytic models are increasingly being developed to simulate disease burden and interventions in different settings in order to evaluate the benefits and cost-effectiveness of primary and secondary interventions for informed decision-making. This article is a focused review on existing mathematical models that have been used to evaluate HPV vaccination in the context of developed countries with existing screening programs. Despite variations in model assumptions and uncertainty in existing data, pre-adolescent vaccination of girls has been consistently found to be attractive in the context of current screening practices, provided there is complete and lifelong vaccine protection and widespread vaccination coverage. Questions related to catch-up vaccination programs, potential benefits of other non-cervical cancer outcomes and inclusion of boys are subject to far more uncertainty, and results from these analyses have reached conflicting conclusions. Most analyses find that some catch-up vaccination is warranted but becomes increasingly unattractive as the catch-up age is extended, and vaccination of boys is unlikely to be cost-effective if reasonable levels of coverage are achieved in girls or coverage among girls can be improved. The objective of this review is to highlight points of consensus and qualitative themes, to discuss the areas of divergent findings, and to provide insight into critical decisions related to cervical cancer prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Developed Countries*
  • Female
  • Human papillomavirus 16
  • Human papillomavirus 18
  • Humans
  • Mass Vaccination / organization & administration
  • Mass Vaccination / standards
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • National Health Programs / economics
  • Papillomavirus Infections / diagnosis
  • Papillomavirus Infections / economics
  • Papillomavirus Infections / prevention & control*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / economics
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / immunology
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / standards*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines