Dear Friends of the international EUROGIN 2012 congress,
it is a pleasure to welcome you to Prague for the 2012 conference on human papillomavirus cervical and other human diseases, translating research into practice.
The long march of HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines is continuing even if at a lesser speed than we wished. Between the last Eurogin meeting in Lisbon and the one in Prague, exciting new evidence has accumulated on the duration of the vaccine efficacy and the strong effectiveness of vaccination programs in countries like Australia that introduced it the earliest and the best. A few countries like Bhutan and Rwanda provided the proof of evidence that excellent nation-wide school-based HPV vaccination programs are possible even in low resource countries. GAVI opened, with the support of WHO, UNICEF, IARC, and PATH, a much awaited funding window for the gradual introduction of the vaccine in the poorest countries in Africa, Asia, and Central America. Major improvements in the way HPV vaccines can be produced, evaluated, and delivered (e.g. wider type spectrum; more rapid trials’ endpoints; fewer doses; and lower vaccination age) are conceivable. EUROGIN will be there as it has always been to monitor and encourage vaccination programs that have the potential to prevent around 5% of all cancers worldwide.
Head and neck cancers (HNSCCs) are an important public health problem with 640,000 annual incident cases of lip-, oral -, pharyngeal- and laryngeal cancers; HNSCCs are nearly three-fold more prevalent among men than women. In comparison, there are approximately 500,000 cervical cancer cases per year worldwide. As first suggested in the early 1980s, HPV infection, particularly HPV16, has now been confirmed to be causally associated with a subgroup of HNSCCs. This evidence is strongest for oropharyngeal cancers. HPV-associated HNSCCs are considered as a distinct clinical entity, with a better disease-specific survival (DSS) than the classical tobacco- and alcohol-associated cancers. Alarmingly, the incidence of oropharyngeal and base-of-tongue cancers is increasing in most Western countries, among non-smokers and non-drinkers. Rapidly detected changes in the outcomes of HNSCCs and breakthroughs in research of their etiology have challenged the entire discipline. Thus, this year, EUROGIN will contribute in the field by bringing together clinicians, as well as experts in HPV biology, epidemiology, and prevention, to create new road maps for the prevention and treatment of HNSCC.
Eastern countries have consistently reported high rates of cervical cancer incidence and mortality, late stage at first diagnosis, and high mortality rates in the year after diagnosis. The fact that the prevalence of HPV infection in screening populations in eastern countries is similar to that in the rest of the European countries suggests that the lack or organized screening programs and limited impact of sporadic screening activities are likely parts of the explanation. The introduction of HPV vaccines has made an impressive qualitative change in the preventive potential. HPV vaccination will benefit in priority the younger generation of girls; therefore, a reduction in cancer rates will likely be recorded in the coming decades. Meanwhile, the bulk of cervical cancer cases currently endured will continue to occur among the unvaccinated adult women that can only benefit from the implementation of screening opportunities. At this time of rapid changes, there is great interest in exploring integrated approaches that combine vaccination policies and advanced screening programs in order to make the best possible use of the health resources available for prevention.
Eurogin 2012 travels to Eastern Europe and invites a detailed discussion on the frontiers of diseases related to HPV while continuing to investigate novel preventive opportunities worldwide.
We thank you for your interest and participation in the congress, and hope that you enjoy your stay in the beautiful city of Prague.
Xavier Bosch (Spain)
Silvia Franceschi (France)
Stina Syrjänen (Finland)