Australia leads the way in eliminating cervical cancer

October 3, 2018

Australia will become the first country to eliminate cervical cancer with the continued vaccination and screening rates, research shows.

Australia’s current annual cervical cancer rate stands at seven cases per 100,000 people, about half the global average.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, and could be eradicated within 20 years, largely thanks to national prevention programmes.

In 1991, the country introduced a national screening programme for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), often linked to the development of cervical cancer. In 2007, Australia became one of the first countries to enact a vaccination scheme for girls, which was later extended to boys.

The research was published by the Cancer Council New South Wales (NSW) in The Lancet Public Health Journal.

Cervical cancer is caused by high-risk types of HPV. It is the fourth most frequent cancer in women and has high mortality rates globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

“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,” explained Dr. Megan Smith, a researcher from Cancer Council NSW.

Last year, Australia replaced its routine screening pap smear examinations with more sensitive HPV cervical screening tests.

Researchers have estimated that the new test, conducted every five years, will reduce cancer rates by at least 20%.

According to the WHO, about nine in 10 deaths from cervical cancer happen in low and middle-income countries.


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