Editors' Forum | 1,000 targeted for cervical cancer screening
As part of its thrust to bring awareness and encourage screening during Cancer Awareness Month, the Jamaica Cancer Society is targeting at least 1,000 women to be checked for cervical cancer, which is most prevalent, yet preventable.
Yulit Gordon, executive director of the orgnaisation, said that cancer is a major public health issue that requires a national response.
"With the prevalence of cervical cancer in the Jamaican society, it is imperative that we look to establish a national screening programme to prevent the disease from escalating. A good screening programme should be able to cover at least 70 per cent of the population in a particular screening cycle, which would serve to bring the statistics down significantly," Gordon told a Gleaner Editors' Forum yesterday.
She said that just under 50,000 women in Jamaica are tested annually for cervical cancer, but a proper screening programme could cover seven times that number. Through grants and donations, the society is able to bring the service to women in rural communities, where access is more difficult.
"We cannot overemphasise the importance of women getting their Pap smears done," Gordon noted. "It remains the gold standard of screening for cervical cancer and can detect any abnormality within the cervix before it becomes cancerous. Cervical cancer is preventable if it is detected early. It can be successfully treated. It can be cured," she said.
Testing can be done in a doctor's office, at health clinics or hospitals, but the Cancer Society said that it is open to bringing the service to the workplace.
"We just need a space with bathroom facilities and where the ladies can change for screening. We will bring everything else," Gordon disclosed.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main risk factor for cervical cancer and accounts for 70 per cent of cancers globally. Sexual intercourse with someone with the HPV is the most common form of transmission.
Gynaecologic oncologist Dr Matthew Taylor says that the HPV vaccine helps the immune system create an antibody response that protects the body against the infection.
The vaccine is administered in two or three shots over a six-month period to both males and females between the ages of nine to 26 years.