Clinical opinions / 17 Feb, 2021

How Australia can remain on-track to eliminate cervical cancer in post-COVID era

Dr Rebecca Chin

Dr Rebecca Chin shares her thoughts on how new technology and regional care are key to hitting ambitious target by 2035

Eliminating a cancer is a remarkable goal for humanity and Australia is set to be the first in the world to achieve this feat. However, last year was a reminder that cancer doesn’t stop for anything and we mustn’t get complacent.

In the aftermath of COVID-19, it is important we move into 2021 with renewed focus to achieve this goal. It’s estimated that approximately half (50%) of invited or eligible Australian women have either not participated in screening for cervical cancer, or are not up to date with screening. Now, with the drop in cancer screening during COVID-19, there is concern this figure may grow and Australians are being urged to go and get their health checks.

By detecting pre-cancerous changes cervical screening can enable treatment to prevent cervical cancer developing, as there is a time lag from when abnormalities form to when cervical cancer develops, often a decade or two in most patients, although this may be shorter in some patients.

While treatment for very early stage cervical cancer may be a relatively simple surgical procedure, advanced cases require more complex surgery, or radiation therapy with chemotherapy.

Cervical cancer care can take 2.5 months to deliver, which is a long time to be away from family, friends and work if you live in regional and remote areas and need to travel for treatment. Eliminating cervical cancer will make a significant difference for women and their families across Australia, particularly those who face barriers to accessing care.

This is why at Icon, we are committed to ensuring all Australians have access to the very best technologies, regardless of where they live.

Icon continues to invest in imaging and technological innovations to improve treatment options and deliver more precise treatments, leading to improved patient outcomes and fewer treatment side effects.

This year, World Cancer Day is a timely reminder that renewed focus on vaccination completion, screening and treatment in the post-COVID era is critical to remain on-track to eliminate cervical cancer.

Dr Rebecca Chin is a Radiation Oncologist at Icon Revesby and Icon Wahroonga.

References

For a full list of references, click here.
  1. Cancer Council. Australian government and Cancer Council lead WHO commitment to eliminate cervical cancer. Available from: https://www.cancer.org.au/media-releases/2020/australian-government-and-cancer-council-lead-who-commitment-to-eliminate-cervical-cancer
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2019. Analysis of cervical cancer and abnormality outcomes in an era of cervical screening and HPV vaccination in Australia. Cancer series no. 126. Cat. no. CAN 129. Canberra: AIHW.

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