Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide, but it’s almost entirely preventable. Incidence in Australia and New Zealand has fallen by half since national Pap testing programs were implemented almost thirty years ago, and it now it sits between 6 and 7 cases per 100,000 women. But this rate has been at plateau for over a decade, and Pap cytology now plays second fiddle to HPV testing. In December 2017 Australia seconded the Netherlands to adopt this as the primary tool in cervical screening, and New Zealand plans to follow suit in 2021.
The most noticeable shift is that the interval between screens will now be five years rather than two. And women will enter the program at age 25 instead of 18. Modeling shows that this could half the incidence of cervical cancer further and at much lower cost than the previous program. Some, however, are concerned about the costs and risks involved in the triage pathway. This episode of Pomegranate Health will answer some questions that women and health professionals might have about the HPV-based National Cervical Screening Program.
Guests: Associate Professor Julia Brotherton AFPHM (VCS Foundation, University of Melbourne), Professor Ian Hammond AM FRANZCOG (Chair, Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program Implementation Committee, University of Western Australia)
Written and produced by Mic Cavazzini. Recording assistance in Perth from Meri Fatin and in Melbourne from Jon Tjhia of Paper Radio. Music courtesy of Free Music Archive; ‘Electro Cool’ by 4T Thieves, ‘Fryeri,’ ‘Headway,’ ‘Brand New World’ and ‘Mare’ by Kai Engel. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.