Australia is on the right track to completely eliminate cervical cancer. Since 2007, the country has been vaccinating all adolescents against the papilloma virus free of charge.
The International Papillomavirus Society announced a few days ago that Australia could become the first country to completely eliminate cervical cancer. According to a new study, the efforts of health authorities to distribute a free human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in schools have been successful. The sexually transmitted infection causes 99.9% of cases of cervical cancer.
In 2007, the Australian federal government began offering the vaccine to girls aged 12 to 13, and in 2013 it was made available to boys. Those outside this age group — but under the age of nineteen — are also eligible for two free doses of the vaccine. As a result, in Australia, the rate of human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, a sexually transmitted virus, has fallen from 22.7% to 1.1% between 2005 and 2015 among 18 to 24 years old women, according to a report in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, led by Suzanne Garland, researcher at Royal Women’s Hospital.
12,578 women were diagnosed and 4,115 died from cervical cancer in the United States in 2014. The situation today remains very complicated elsewhere in the world, especially in developing countries. “Two-thirds of the global population of women do not have access to what Australian women do,” said Joe Tooma, executive director of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation. “Unless we do something, it will always be the cancer that kills more people in developing countries.”
The cervix is the low, narrow part of the uterus. A cancer of the cervix is a disease that develops on the lining of the cervix, in other words on the tissue that covers it. More precisely, it originates in the first layer of the mucosa which is called the epithelium.
As previously mentioned, the main cause of cervical cancer is a persistent infection with the sexually transmitted virus HPV. When this virus settles durably in the cervix, it can cause changes in the epithelium, called precancerous lesions. In rare cases, these lesions may progress to cancer. This evolution is slow since a cancer usually appears 10 to 15 years after the persistent infection by the virus.