A new Australian-first study by Cancer Council NSW has estimated the impact of HPV vaccination and HPV-based cervical screening on the future burden of adenocarcinoma, a type of cervical cancer.
“Cervical screening programs like Australia’s Pap test program have done a great deal to reduce cervical cancer incidence and mortality,” said Megan Smith, Program Manager, Cervix/HPV and Breast Group at Cancer Council NSW.
“However, these reductions have mainly occurred in squamous cell cancers – the most common cervical cancer. Adenocarcinoma is less common and more difficult to diagnose with a Pap test because it starts developing higher in the cervix.”
Since the inception of the national cervical screening program in 1991, overall cervical screening rates have about halved. However, adenocarcinomas haven’t been reduced to the same extent – in fact, rates appear to be increasing, from 11 per cent of all cervical cancers in Australia in 1982 to 22 per cent in 2010.
Two interventions have the potential to change this and reduce adenocarcinoma in the future: HPV vaccination and HPV-based screening. Australia will be the first country in the world where both of these interventions are implemented in overlapping age cohorts.
The study therefore estimated the potential future burden of adenocarcinoma in two different scenarios: assuming that rates remained steady, and looking at what would happen if trends for increasing rates continued.
In the absence of any interventions, up to almost 10,000 adenocarcinomas would be diagnosed in Australia from 2015 to 2040. The researchers found that HPV vaccination alone is estimated to reduce rates by 36–39 per cent, and the switch to HPV-based screening in December 2017 is expected to lower rates by an additional 19-44 per cent.
“The combination of HPV vaccination and the new screening program therefore has the potential to reduce overall rates of adenocarcinoma by 55 to 81 per cent, and avert up to 6121 cases,” Ms Smith said.
“Our findings demonstrate the continued importance of cervical screening in the coming decades, especially for older women who are likely to receive limited benefit from HPV vaccination programs in this timeframe,” Ms Smith said.
[hr] About Cancer Council NSW
As an organisation that’s 96 per cent community funded, Cancer Council NSW relies on the generous donations of its supporters.
“Research like this study is made possible by donations from events like Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea – in May and June, Cancer Council NSW is encouraging people across the state to gather their friends, family or workmates for a cup of tea and a bite to eat whilst raising money to support Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea,” Megan Smith, Program Manager, Cervix/HPV and Breast Group at Cancer Council NSW.
To register to host your morning tea in May or June, visit biggestmorningtea.com.au or call 1300 65 65 85.