Queensland women benefit from HPV vaccination

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination has lowered the rate of high grade cervical cancer abnormalities to a historical low in women under the age of 20, new research released today has found.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today released Cervical screening in Australia 2012-2013, which found cervical cancer cases and deaths nationally remained very low by global standards.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the research highlighted the need for eligible young women to get the full course of the vaccine.

“The HPV vaccine has almost eliminated human papillomavirus in vaccinated Australians, protecting our next generation from cervical cancer,” Ms Clift said.

“The research shows a reduction in high grade cancerous abnormalities for women under 20, and those aged 20-24 – which is extremely promising.

“These historically low rates of abnormalities are thanks largely to the introduction of the HPV vaccination for girls.

“It’s imperative that all eligible young people receive the full course of the vaccine – taking preventive action against HPV is vital and could save a young person’s life in years to come.”

The new report also found that reductions in cervical cancer incidence and mortality for Indigenous women lagged behind reductions among non-Indigenous women.

“The rate of new cervical cancer cases for Indigenous women is double the rate for non-Indigenous women, and the death rate is four times as high,” Ms Clift said.

“We urgently need greater support for the Indigenous community to ensure the vaccine is delivered to those eligible, and that they get the resources and education that they need.”

Cancer Council Queensland urges eligible women to undergo a pap smear test every two years, even if they have received the full course of the HPV vaccine.

Earlier this year, Cancer Council Queensland welcomed recommended changes to Australia’s cervical screening program announced by Australia’s Medical Services Advisory Committee.

Evidence shows a new HPV test every five years, which is recommended to become the primary cervical screening tool, would be more effective than a pap smear and just as safe.

“Until the HPV test is approved, which isn’t likely before 2016, regular pap smears currently remain the best protection against cervical cancer,” Ms Clift said.

“Through population screening at regular intervals, the pap smear test has the potential to reduce up to 90 per cent of cervical cancer cases nationally.

“If the changes are adopted, we will be urging all Queensland women to embrace the new HPV test, continuing Australia’s record in the early detection and treatment of cervical cancer.

“For now, we encourage all eligible Queensland women to continue to undergo pap smear tests every two years.”

Around 200 Queensland women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171