Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.
Cervical screening with Pap tests enables early detection and treatment of cervical abnormalities prior to the development of cancer. In Australia, cervical cancer incidence and death rates have halved since the introduction of a national cervical screening program in 1991.
It is now established that persistent infection with human papillomavirus (HPV) causes nearly all cervical cancers. This knowledge has led to two important clinical advances: a vaccine for primary prevention of cervical cancer, and HPV testing to improve secondary prevention. The introduction of a national HPV vaccination program in 2007, delivering the prophylactic vaccine to adolescent girls, is expected to further reduce cervical cancer in Australia.
Developments in HPV vaccination, along with new evidence on the optimal screening age range and interval, and developments in screening technologies have led to the need to evaluate the optimal combination and integration of vaccination and screening. A review of Australia’s cervical screening program led to recommendations to replace Pap smears every two years with HPV testing at an interval of five years. The recommendations, made in April 2014, are not expected to be implemented before 2016.
This chapter discusses the impact of cervical cancer and it's causes, provides information on HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening, and discusses the policy context in Australia in which both vaccination and screening take place. Lastly, it outlines Cancer Council's policy priorities to reduce the burden of cervical cancer in Australia.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. ACIM (Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality) books. Canberra: AIHW; 2014 Feb 13 Available from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/acim-books/.