Thanks to a very successful vaccination and screening program, Australians are kicking some serious cervical cancer ass.
In fact, we are set to become to the first country in the world to completely eliminate cervical cancer.
How amazing is that?
Crunching the cervical cancer numbers
Research just in from the Cancer Council shows cervical cancer is on track to be a rare disease by 2022 and eradicated by 2066!
Considering cervical cancer is currently the 14th most common cancer in females, this is pretty awesome news.
The incidence of cervical cancer in Australia now stands at six cases per 100,000, well below the global average.
Researchers estimate that this number will fall to four cases per 100,000 by 2035. It will continue to decrease to just ONE case per 100,000 by 2066. To put it another way, by the year 2100 there will be just three deaths per million. Today, this number stands at around 21 deaths per million (or about 260 deaths a year).
How did we do it?
We chose to vaccinate. And the majority of parents made the decision to ensure their children receive this vaccination.
The vaccination, known as Gardasil, offers protection against anal, vulva and throat cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and genital warts.
In nearly all cases (over 99% of times), a HPV infection that does not clear up causes the cervical cancer so having a vaccination against this is a pretty big deal. About 79 per cent of 15-year-old girls and 43 per cent of boys have had the voluntary Gardasil vaccination.
But what about us oldies who didn’t get this vaccination in our youth? After all, it was only introduced in 1997. Are we still at risk?
Yes, but that’s why there is now the Cervical Screening Test in place, the other piece to the puzzle in eliminating cervical cancer in Australia. Under the new screening program, women should have their first screening test at the age of 25 and then every five years if no high risk HPV is detected.
The new screening test takes the place of the Pap smear. It’s considered more accurate as it detects the virus at an earlier stage.
Kicking cervical cancer to the kerb
For the thousands of Aussie women who have experienced the horror of cervical cancer, this news couldn’t come soon enough. Mum-of-two Elaine Davies, one of our own Mum Central team, was 35 years old when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2001. To rid her body of the cancer she had a pelvic exenteration. This means doctors removed her vagina, bladder and part of her bowel.
“Words can not describe how much of a big deal this is,” Elaine says. “I have lost so many friends over the years who were just not as lucky as I was.”
To imagine that by the time my own sons have grown up children, that fewer women would have to go through what our family have makes me feel really emotional and proud of how far we’ve come.”
However, every Australian needs to do her part to ensure we stay on the right track to eradicate cervical cancer. This means vaccinations for our kids and regular screenings for us.
Together, vaccinations and screenings are proving a power team in stopping cervical cancer from taking our loved ones and protecting our kids, grandbabies and great grandkids against this disease.
There’s another cancer that strikes down way too many Australian women – ovarian cancer – and here’s what you need to know.