Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Cervical cancer: Australia 'to be first to eliminate disease'

Carol Taylor senior biomedical scientist studies the cells in cervical smear samples at the Cotman Centre Carol Taylor senior biomedical scientist studies the cells in cervical smear samples at the Cotman Centre
Samantha Long | 05 October, 2018, 16:58

The research predicts rates will continue to drop even further, dropping below 4 in 100,000 by 2035.

It is predicted to be classified as a "rare cancer" in Australia by 2022, when it should drop to less than six cases per 100,000 people.

But this is all contingent on Australia's high vaccination coverage and screening being maintained, write the study authors.

"Regardless of what the [elimination] threshold is, it is likely Australia would be the first country to reach it given our current low rate of cervical cancer, and our strong prevention programmes", Dr Megan Smith, a researcher from Cancer Council NSW told the BBC.

Impending changes which will see screenings look for the cancer-causing HPV virus, are being blamed for the backlog.

The country also offered girls between the ages of 12 and 13 a publicly-funded HPV vaccine in 2007, then made the same offer to boys in 2013. The achievement was attributed to the introduction ten years ago of a national vaccination programme for all children for human papillomavirus (HPV) and the launch of a national cervical smear test initiative in 1991. By 2100 there would be just three deaths per million women (compared to 21 deaths per million, or about 260 deaths each year today).

Australia's current annual cervical cancer rate stood at seven cases per 100,000 people, which was about half the global average.

The HPV vaccine protects against four types of HPV which cause around 80 percent of cervical cancer and the vast majority of genital warts.

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"We must not lose sight of this goal and should strive to increase uptake of the preventative vaccination and screening programmes, especially among non-vaccinated women where incidence is set to rise", Music adds.

Research by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust has shown that elimination of the disease could be on the horizon in the United Kingdom, with deaths predicted to nearly disappear among vaccinated generations by 2040.

Cancer Research UK said it understood the challenge the NHS was facing ahead of the HPV switch, but said it was important for turnaround times to be reduced "as quickly as possible".

Cervical Cancer to Be Completely Eradicated in Australia.

The ministers of health of the Region of the Americas agreed to implement a series of strategic actions to reduce new cases of cervical cancer and the resulting deaths by one-third in the region by 2030.

Some types of HPV are high risk because they are linked to the development of some cancers.

"Only with community participation and the implementation of large-scale HPV vaccination programmes, in addition to cervical cancer screening services that are accessible to all women everywhere, can we accelerate the achievements, prevent new cases, and save lives", said Anselm Hennis, director of the Department of Noncommuni-cable Diseases and Mental Health at PAHO/WHO.

Iacopo Baussano and Freddie Bray of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France stated in a comment that the study "is a clear example of how modeling can contribute to assessing national progress in cancer control".

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