By Annette Chrysostomou
Pap tests are to be offered with a 50 per cent discount on Friday to mark European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which began on Monday.
The campaign has been organised by the Cyprus Gynaecological and Obstetrics Society in cooperation with the Cyprus Tissue and Cell Society. Their members have been urged to perform the test, which typically costs around €100, for half the price this Friday.
“It is just a suggestion, there is no obligation,” Hectoros Charalambides from the society said.
“We are suggesting this for the first time,” president of the association, Marios Iasides added, “we don’t know how many doctors will participate. Each patient should call their doctor to find out if they are taking part in the effort.”
The Papanicolaou test, also called pap test or pap smear, can prevent up to 80 per cent of cervical cancers, and organised routine checks have reduced cervical cancer mortality considerably worldwide.
“In Cyprus, compared with other European countries, the number of cases of cervical cancer are small, with 30 new cases and eight deaths recorded annually on average. But even this number is very large when a simple test, a pap smear, is all that is needed to protect life,” Health Minister Giorgos Pamborides said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Encouraging routine pap tests, which are also free in public hospitals, is one of the two parts of a campaign by the Cyprus Association of Cancer Patients and Friends (PASYKAF) which has been ongoing from 2010 to combat the cancer.
The second part is the provision of vaccines against the Human papillomavirus (HPV), the most common cause of the disease. The vaccines are highly effective when given to adolescents.
That is why, in addition to the pap tests offered in public hospitals, the health ministry also announced in January that it will introduce free vaccines against cervical cancer from September 2016 to all 12 and 13-year-old girls in public and private schools.