Oct
19
2016

Fewer Island women being diagnosed with cervical cancer

A more accessible screening program and more available human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine are working together to help reduce the number of Island women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The number of Island women diagnosed per year has slowly declined from an average of eight cases per year in the 1990s to an average of five cases per year in more recent years. During Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, Island women are encouraged to get screened by making an appointment by phone (toll-free) at 1-888-561-2233, completing an online booking application, or speaking to their primary care provider.

“Regular screening remains the best way for women to protect themselves from cervical cancer since it can detect abnormal cells before they become cancer,” says cancer surveillance epidemiologist Dr. Carol McClure. “With more awareness and easily accessible prevention options – such as the PEI Cervical Cancer Screening Program and HPV immunization program – we anticipate that cervical cancer diagnoses in the province will continue to decrease even more.”

Women aged 21 to 65 who are considered average risk are encouraged to get screened for cervical cancer every two years. While the national target for screening is 80 percent participation, the screening rate for Island women is approximately 67 percent.

“It’s important that women can access screening services that are convenient and easy to get to,” says PEI Cervical Cancer Screening Program coordinator Anja Nied-Kutterer.  “We’ve expanded the screening program to communities across the province, offering approximately 100 clinic days annually with the support of primary care nurses and nurse practitioners.”

On Prince Edward Island, grade 6 girls and boys are encouraged to participate in the school-based HPV vaccination program. During the 2013-14 school year, 85 percent of girls and 79 percent of boys completed the doses required of the school-based HPV vaccination program.

The HPV vaccine covers 70 per cent of HPV strains that can cause cervical cancer. Islanders who want more information on getting vaccinated against HPV can call their local public health nursing office.

For information about cervical cancer on Prince Edward Island, including screening and HPV immunization programs, visit Healt PEI Papscreening.

Backgrounder:
The PEI Cervical Cancer Screening Program screens approximately about 1,700 women each year.

Women can also be screened by making an appointment with their primary care provider.

The current cervical cancer screening guidelines recommend women should have a Pap test if they:
•    are 21-65 years of age and have been sexually active (including intercourse, as well as oral or touch with a partner’s genital area, male or female);
•    are over 65 years of age and have not had three negative tests in the last 10 years.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for adult females 18 -45 years of age with the following risk factors:
•    having unprotected sex with multiple partners (male and female)
•    history of genital warts
•    an abnormal PAP test
•    females who missed the HPV immunization in Grade 6 since 2007

The HPV vaccine is recommended for adult males 18-26 years of age with the following risk factors:
•    having unprotected sex with multiple partners (male and female)
•    history of genital warts
•    males who missed the HPV immunization in Grade 6 since 2012.

HPV vaccine is also recommended for all males who have sex with males regardless of age.

Media contact:
Amanda Hamel
Senior Communications Officer
Health PEI
(902) 368-6135
ajhamel@gov.pe.ca

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healthpei@gov.pe.ca

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