Some rare good cancer-related news: Australia is on track to virtually eliminate instances of cervical cancer within the next 40 years. That’s according to new data which shows infection rates have been reduced massively since the introduction of national immunisation programmes in 2007, combined with more comprehensive cancer screening programmes.
According to a new research paper published by the International Papillomavirus Society, Australia’s HPV infection rate is now around 1 percent in women aged between 18 and 24. Back in 2007, it was around 24 percent for that same age group. HPV is the infection that causes cervical cancer, a deadly disease on a global level that kills one woman every two minutes.
In 40 years, when most Australian women will have been vaccinated for HPV in childhood and will be undergoing regular cancer screenings, it is expected that Australia will become the first country in the world to effectively eliminate cervical cancer.
"We are forecasting that over the next 30-40 years, rates of cervical cancer will drop from around the current 1000 cases a year in Australia to just a few," University of Melbourne medical researcher Professor Suzanne Garland said in a media statement.
"Our national HPV immunisation program for both boys and girls, combined with our cervical cancer population screening, means we are well positioned to be the first country to effectively end this deadly cancer.”
Currently around 77 percent of Australian high school students participate in the national HPV immunisation programme. An improved version of the vaccine, Gardasil, will be available later this year.