Time and embarrassment key reasons for low cervical cancer screening

Paul Hayes

9/10/2019 1:25:54 PM

New research seeks to shed light on why screening levels are falling.

Collection sample
Other screening barriers included fear of results, irrelevance, and a lack of availability of a female health professional.

Cervical cancer is highly preventable and, when found early, highly treatable.
Yet Australian screening rates for the disease are trending downwards, with just 56% of eligible women screened in 2015–16, down from just over 58% in 2012–13, according to new research from James Cook University.
‘This is lower than the average OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries reported screening rate of just over 60% in 2013, and nearly 30% lower than highly screened countries such as the United States,’ lead researcher Archana Nagendiram said.
According to the study, which examined surveys of Australian women in an attempt to ‘find common threads’ in their reasons for not being tested, lack of time and embarrassment are among the key factors.
‘A “barrier” was defined as a belief that would actively prevent a woman from participating in cervical screening,’ Ms Nagendiram, a sixth-year medical student, said.
‘The most commonly stated barriers included lack of time, embarrassment, fear of results, irrelevance, and a lack of availability of a female health professional.’
Ms Nagendiram said ‘well-targeted educational campaigns’ may play an instrumental role in increasing screening rates, given woman’s likelihood of participation depends on perceived benefits weighed against barriers to behavioural change.
News of the lower screening rates comes as researchers in Queensland report a world-first ‘cure’ for cervical cancer, having killed off tumours in mice with the use of CRISPR gene-editing technology.
According to the ABC, researchers at the Menzies Health Institute Queensland used CRISPR-Cas9, a technology for changing the sequence of DNA in cells to correct mutations, in successfully targeting and treating cervical cancer tumours.
‘This is the first cure for any cancer using this technology,’ Nigel McMillan, lead researcher and Director of Infectious Disease and Immunology at the Menzies Health Institute Queensland, said.
‘In our study, the treated mice have 100% survival and no tumours.’
The researchers specifically targeted human papillomavirus (HPV)-driven cancers and, while successful at this stage, caution there is still a long way to go.
‘Persistent infection with high-risk HPV is responsible for 99.7% of cervical cancer cases,’ Professor McMillan told the ABC.
‘We know a third of all cancers in the world are caused by infectious organisms, so this treatment would be fantastic because we are targeting foreign genes, genes that are not normally in our genome.
‘There are still many steps to go through before we get to the clinic stage.’

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Dr Gnanasegaran Xavier   12/10/2019 8:45:58 PM

I thought the problem was in my country,waiting for female doctors.Are you sure the australian females too wait for female doctors for cervical screening?