New cases of cervical cancer in Cyprus could be cut by increased use of vaccinations against the human papillomavirus (HPV) and Pap smears, speakers told a seminar in Nicosia.
Around 40 new cases of cervical cancer – which is one of the most common types of cancer in women – are recorded each year in Cyprus.
“Cervical cancer is a real problem in our country, but now it is possible to prevent it,” Director of the Department of Pathology and Oncology at the Cyprus Centre for Oncology Dr Dimitris Papamichail told the lecture organised by the Cyprus paediatrics, gynaecology and obstetrics societies.
He added that the treatment of cervical cancer is very difficult not only from a medical but also from a psychological aspect, both for patients and their families.
Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Dr Vassiliki Papaveangelou, stressed the importance of prevention through HPV vaccination, which she said can prevent up to 90 per cent of cases of cervical and vulvar cancer, 85 per cent of cases of cancer of the vagina and 95 per cent of cases of rectal cancer.
Referring to her long experience with vaccines against HPV and their proven efficacy and safety, she said that it explains why they are unreservedly recommended by all international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the European Medicines Agency.
University of Athens Professor of Ostetrics and Gynaecology Dr Efthymios Deligeoroglu said there is a very high incidence of HPV worldwide and in Cyprus, especially among young people.
He also said that the Pap smear test is a very useful tool for doctors, although he said the test cannot lead to the elimination of cervical cancer because many women neglect to have themselves examined and because precancerous lesions are not treated promptly.
Cyprus cancer patients’ association Pasykaf estimates that around 5,000 girls aged 12 and 13 have so far been given the free HPV vaccine in schools. This number corresponds to almost 60 per cent of female high school pupils who responded to the health ministry’s offer of a free vaccine. This was the first year the vaccine was administered to pupils aged between 12 and 13 in all schools, state and private. The goal is to increase the response rate to 80 per cent and to expand the programme to include male pupils as well.