AROUND 30 new cases of cervical cancer and 11 deaths are recorded each year in Cyprus, but these numbers could be further decreased through prevention, Health Minister Giorgos Pamporidis said on Monday.
During a press conference to mark the European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, Pamporidis said that the majority of these cases concern women aged between 35 and 50.
“These numbers can and must be gradually reduced,” Pamboridis said.
Cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent form of cancer among women, he said, as 500,000 new cases are recorded around the world each year. In Europe, 60,000 women each year develop cervical cancer, while 30,000 die from it.
This type of cancer can be prevented, the minister said, through the Pap smear. Prevention, Pamporidis said, should begin at a younger age, as it takes around ten years for cervical cancer to develop.
He added that his ministry has introduced this school year the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine against cervical cancer in private and public schools. The first dose has already been administered free of charge to 5,000 13-and 14-year-old female students. The second dose is to be administrated in April and May, he said, while the aim is to expand the scheme in the future to cover the vaccination of boys as well.
At the event, a survey was also presented on the level of awareness and prevention among women living in areas of the Tamassos Bishopric that funded the research carried out by Epidemiologist, Lia Demetriou, with the support of the Federation of Business and Professional Women (Kogee). Some 1295 women participated in the survey who were aged between 20 and 64, residents of Lakatamia, Pera Orinis, Paliometocho, Palaichori and Episkopio in the Nicosia district.
The head of the Kogee Mary Papadopoulou said that the study indicated that women living in rural areas or those with lower incomes or less educated, know little about cervical cancer and take the Pap smear more rarely.
More than half of the respondents said that they take the Pap smear annually or every two years, while a third said they rarely take the test or that they have never taken it.
More than eight in ten said that they had adequate knowledge concerning cervical cancer, while 15 per cent said that they did not know that much about it, or at all.
As regards their source of information, half of the respondents said their doctor, more than four in ten said the media, and almost a fourth said lectures of the Kogee.
Almost a third of the women asked, said they did know anything about the HPV vaccine, 11.4 per cent however, said they had been vaccinated.
The findings also indicated that the shorter the distance to Nicosia, the better informed they were on cervical cancer, and the more frequently they took the Pap smear.
Papadopoulou said that the numbers indicate that more efforts are needed to raise awareness among women through gynaecologists, the media, lectures and seminars. “Prevention and precaution should be at the core of the public health policy, with the creation of special information programmes, free examination and vaccination,” she said.
Dr Dinos Mavromousatkis, of the gynaecological society said that at the moment, women, can be referred from public hospitals to private doctors for the Pap smear.