20th January 2012
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2012 - women reminded that cancer of the cervix is preventableThe Department of Health is supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, a Europe wide initiative which runs from 22nd to the 28th January 2012. The Department is focussing on two specific aspects of cervical cancer prevention – immunisation and screening.
Minister for Health, David Anderson MHK said:
“To be able to vaccinate against this type of cancer is a remarkable step forward. By providing a HPV Immunisation Programme annually, the Department is taking action to save the lives of numerous women in the Isle of Man. We hope to see the number of cases of cervical cancer reduced by more than two thirds in the years ahead, as those girls who have been vaccinated enter adulthood.
“We’re fortunate that we have these golden opportunities to prevent this potentially life threatening disease through immunisation as well as to detect and treat it early through screening. For this to work, we need all girls in the appropriate age bracket to take up the HPV vaccine and for all women to attend their regular screening appointments. Just having a simple set of injections or attending a screening test can save lives.”
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Immunisation Programme, which is offered to all girls aged 12 - 13 (school year 8), has shown that there is clear evidence that the HPV vaccination will prevent 70% of cervical cancers by offering protection against the two most common types of HPV. The HPV immunisation programme began in 2010 and each year 85% of girls in year 8 take up the vaccinations. Girls who may have missed the vaccinations in year 8 can still commence the HPV vaccination before they are 18.
Jacqui Dunn, Health Protection Nurse said:
“It’s not only important that as many girls in the age 12- 13 age bracket take up the vaccine, but also that they complete the course of three injections. The Public Health Directorate works closely with all of the Island’s secondary schools to raise awareness, provide information, as well as work with and reassure parents and young girls.”
The Cervical Screening Programme detects potentially abnormal changes early, so they can be followed up and treated before becoming cancer. The peak incidence of cervical cancer is between the ages of 40 to 55 and is very rare in women aged under 25. The importance of screening regularly from age 25 cannot be over emphasised. The Department of Health’s Cervical Screening Programme calls women called every 3 years for the 25 - 49 year olds women and every 5 years from 50 – 64 years.
Approximately 1 in 20 screening results show some changes, although the majority of these changes don’t lead to cancer and are followed up by the screening team.
Dr Kishore, Director of Public Health said:
“This awareness week highlights the importance of all girls in the eligible age group receiving all three doses of the HPV vaccination, as well as encouraging eligible women to accept the invitation for cervical screening and follow up. “The majority of those who do not take up either the vaccine or the invitation for screening often do not fully realise the implications of their decision, as they may not be aware of all the facts on cervical cancer. Some 20% of women don’t attend each year for this important test.”