HSA urges cervical cancer prevention

| 16/01/2019

CNS Local Life(CNS Local Life): With January being Cervical Health Awareness Month, the Health Services Authority (HSA) is encouraging women to start getting regular cervical cancer screenings at age 21 and parents to make sure pre-teens get the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine at age 11 or 12.

The HSA noted in a press release the importance of educating women about the ways they can prevent the disease which include regular screening tests, follow-up care and the HPV vaccine.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection and is responsible for almost all cases of cervical cancer, the HSA said, adding, “More than 50 percent of sexually active people will get HPV at some time in their lives, though most will never even know it.”

The Cayman Islands Cancer Registry includes nine cases of cervical cancer; however Cancer Registrar Amanda Nicholson does not believe this to be an accurate representation of those with the disease.

“This is probably one of those heavily underreported type of cancers and so I strongly encourage anyone who’s been diagnosed to contact me at the Cancer Registry,” she said. “The evidence-based data you can provide will further fuel the cancer research necessary to improve quality of care and prevent further deaths from cervical cancer.”

General Practitioner Dr Karina Palmer-Forde, who focuses on women’s health care, spoke of the protection offered by the HPV vaccine. “While routine administration of pap tests is the best means of detecting cervical cancer at an early stage, vaccines have the potential to protect females from the disease, by targeting cancer-causing types of the human papillomavirus,” she explained.

“The vaccine offered at the HSA can help protect against four types of HPV, two of which cause about 75 per cent of cervical cancer cases.”

The target population for the vaccine is adolescents aged 11-13 in years 7 and 8. The vaccines are offered free at the two government high schools, John Gray and Clifton Hunter. They are given in two doses six months apart – a first dose in October and second one in April. However, the vaccine is not mandatory and no child will be vaccinated without parental consent. Parents will also have the opportunity to be present at the time of vaccination if they choose.

The HPV vaccination is available to women and men up to age 21 by appointment at several HSA facilities. For more information, call the Public Health Clinic (244-2648) and Women’s Health (244-2649) in Grand Cayman; Faith Hospital in Cayman Brac (948-2243); and Little Cayman Clinic (948-0072).

Women diagnosed with cervical cancer and not yet registered with the Cancer Registry can call (244-2560) or email Amanda Nicholson.

Q&A on HPV vaccine

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Category: Medical and Health

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