For more information on ACCF’s work please visit www.accf.org.au or for media enquiries you can contact: Leisa Ashton by email or phone 0421 716 551.
ACCF Press Releases
It has been announced by the Federal Department of Health, that changes to the National Cervical Screening Program which were due to be implemented from May 1st, will now be implemented from 1st December 2017.
Last year it was announced that a new National Cancer Screening Register would be implemented which would capture data for cervical screening and bowel screening nationally.
The Federal Department of Health has been working closely with its program partners since May 2016, including Telstra Health, the contracted Service Provider, states and territories, healthcare providers, the Department of Human Services and others to deliver the national register to begin operating from March 2017.
The Federal Department of Health has said that based on the current schedule, the Register will not be ready in time for the publicised commencement dates which are currently 20 March 2017 for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program and 1 May 2017 for the National Cervical Screening Program.
A statement received from Professor Brendan Murphy, Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer stated “Due to the complexity of assimilating and migrating data from eight state and territory cancer registers into one register, the start date for Australia’s first National Cancer Screening Register has been delayed.”
As a consequence of this, the new MBS items for the new Cervical Screening Test will not be made available until the introduction of the register.
In the meantime, the current guidelines for cervical screening will continue to exist.
The State and Territory Health Departments have confirmed that they will be able to support the existing Pap Test in their individual registers until the new test and national register are in place.
Joe Tooma, CEO, Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation stated “The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation is encouraged by the fact that the government wants to get this new register right before it is launched nationally and we are very excited by the prospect of a more accurate and effective cervical screening program being implemented from December.”
“Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation encourages all women to attend for cervical screening as normal when they are next due a Pap test and if they have any concerns or questions then talk to their GP or Women’s Health Service”
For further information or interview opportunities:
Joe Tooma: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0419 481 472
Leisa Ashton: email@example.com or 0421 716 551
The Rotary Club of Kangaroo Point and Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) are holding a combined South Pacific Gala Dinner on Saturday 30 April, 2016 at the Pullman Hotel, Brisbane.
MC, Madonna King and special guest, Professor Ian Frazer AC (co-inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine), will entertain guests along with live entertainment, raffles and auctions.
Cervical cancer is the leading cancer killer of women in developing countries like Vanuatu. Currently there are no facilities to diagnose cancer in Vanuatu and the country is still in need of resources after the devastation left by Cyclone Pam earlier this year.
Funds raised from the event will support the construction of a laboratory so that women may be diagnosed early and therefore treated early. There is no opportunity for chemotherapy or radiation in Vanuatu therefore early diagnosis is the key to long-term survival of those affected by cervical cancer.
To book tickets or to sponsor the event please visit: http://accf.org.au/event/south-pacific-gala-2016-2
Riarna is just one of thousands of Australian women who will experience a dreaded bad result on a Pap test each year.
Fortunately, with early detection and screening, cervical cancer is almost always survivable. 90 per cent of women who die from cervical cancer have not had regular Pap tests.
That’s why talking matters, and the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) is inviting women to share their stories and help tackle cervical cancer.
The ACCF’s new The Faces of Cervical Cancer website (faces.accf.org.au) is an online space where women can come together to share their stories. The launch coincides with Cervical Cancer Awareness Week (Nov 16 – 22nd, 2015).
It’s hoped The Faces of Cervical Cancer campaign will start conversations among women to help them feel less alone.
We also believe conversations save lives, leading to earlier detection and preventing the need for more invasive treatments. And it’s already having an impact.
“I was reminded to get my Pap test after reading the story of one of the ACCF Ambassadors about how a Pap test saved her life,” says The Faces of Cervical Cancer contributor, Brianna.
“It turned out I had a high grade abnormality and needed a LLETZ procedure. If that woman hadn’t had the courage to share her story it could have been much worse.”
According to recent data released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:
• 4 in 10 eligible Australian women do not have the recommended regular 2-yearly Pap test .
• Almost 30 per cent of eligible Australian girls turning 15 are not fully immunised against HPV – the virus that causes most cervical cancers.
Our research shows that some of the common reasons women avoid regular Pap tests is that they feel emotional discomfort and worry about not being ‘normal’ down there.
“We know that the best form of prevention against cervical cancer is early detection. We hope that by sharing the stories of those who have been affected by this disease, other women will also prioritise their health by taking the precautions available to them and register for their free SMS Pap test reminder on our website,” said CEO of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation, Joe Tooma.
“ I am sure that everyone who shares their story on The Faces of Cervical Cancer never thought it would happen to them – but it does, these are real women with real stories” he said.
It’s also hoped The Faces of Cervical Cancer will be a resource for journalists, who often contact the ACCF seeking to interview people who have experienced cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. Donations to the ACCF support program can be made at accf.org.au.
Women are being reminded not to neglect their health below the belly, as recent data shows large numbers of Australian women are not taking part in potentially life-saving tests.
One woman every two minutes dies from cervical cancer, somewhere in the world. And it doesn’t have to happen. Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable and treatable through early detection and screening.
The majority of women who die from cervical cancer have not have regular pap tests. Despite this, recent data shows.
- 4 in 10 eligible Australian women do not have regular 2-yearly Pap tests
- Almost 30 per cent of Australian girls turning 15 are not fully immunised against HPV, the virus which causes 99 per cent of cases of cervical cancer,
To help shine a light on the issue, the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation NSW (ACCF) is hosting a special event in Sydney, on November 18th.
Women are invited to join cervical cancer survivors and ‘learn to shimmy’ with a professional belly dancer, as well as help raise awareness and funds to help tackle cervical cancer.
It’s one of several events taking place around the country during Cervical Cancer Awareness Week 2015 (November, 16th -22nd). For more info or interviews contact Brianna Roberts on 0411 361 139 / firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.accf.org.au
First created in memory of Vicki Nielsen, a mother who lost her battle with cervical cancer in 2013, the 2015 ACCF luncheon is scheduled to take place again during National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week. The Luncheon will be held at the Normanby Hotel in Brisbane on the 21st November to raise much needed funds to help Australian women and their families with cervical cancer. This special lunch, run entirely by passionate volunteers, was created to honour all women affected by cervical cancer.
This year the event will raise funds for the ACCF’s programs within Australia. After last year’s success, raising over $10,000 which helped launch the Cervical Health Info Line, the proceeds from this year’s event will be used to ensure more Australian women and girls aware of how to protect themselves from Cervical Cancer and expand the ACCF’s support programs for women with Cervical Cancer.
“With all proceeds going towards these great programs we’re hoping to spark a conversation about cervical cancer amongst the 200 attendees that will make a genuine difference. Vicki was an inspiring women full of positivity and would want all women to be proactive in managing their health” states Chair of the Event and Fundraising Committee Lauren Maidens.
“It is astounding that for an almost entirely preventable and treatable disease, 90% of women who die from cervical cancer have not had the recommended regular Pap tests. This is why the ACCF’s Australian based programs such as the Get the Pap Text are so vital to helping eliminate cervical cancer” Maidens continues.
ACCF CEO Joe Tooma is eager to see what the 2015 Luncheon holds. “As a self-funded non-profit organisation the ACCF has come incredibly far in helping create awareness of cervical cancer and its prevention, but we still have a long way to go. Events such as the Annual Luncheon ensure we can drive awareness and prevent cervical cancer from being the most common cancer in women under 35.”
With enthusiastic volunteers working tirelessly the Luncheon is set to make its mark. There are incredibly generous raffle and silent auction items on offer, plentiful food and beverages at the ready and live entertainment for all guests to enjoy.
The ACCF is a non-for-profit organisation aimed at eliminating cervical cancer. Their current projects include raising awareness and education both in Australia and internationally as well as distributing the Gardasil vaccine to females in developing countries where cervical cancer is the largest cancer killer of women. So far, ACCF has vaccinated over 116,000 girls against cervical cancer and looks forward to continuing their efforts to eliminate cervical cancer. www.accf.org.au
For more information to purchase tickets or sponsor the event please visit http://www.trybooking.com/INBF
Morgan Harris, one of the volunteers organizing the event, is a cervical cancer survivor at the age of 27. Since diagnosis, Morgan has undergone surgery, including a full hysterectomy, and six weeks of chemotherapy and radiation. She is already back at work and back to her regular life.
“After my recovery, I wanted to put the skills I have to use and raise funds for ACCF to ensure that no woman, no matter where she happens to live, has to go through the same fight I went through”
“I’m also looking forward to putting cervical cancer into the forefront of the conversation. It’s not something that is talked about very often and is definitely not normal golf course conversation.”
“If we can get women AND men together for a game of golf and think about cervical cancer, that’s a huge step forward in the fight to eliminate this disease” Harris continues.
The charity day isn’t just a time to perfect your swing for a good cause – it’s also a great chance to snap up some awesome prizes including a $10,000 hole in one and a signed Brisbane Lions Guernsey.
“We’ve got over $20,000 worth of prizes up for grabs on the day so there is really something there for everyone.”
Team registration (four people) is just $500 but there are hole sponsorships up for grabs for just $1000 giving businesses excellent exposure on the day and in the lead up to the event. All hole sponsorships include a full team registration, breakfast, drink tokens, lunch at presentation, raffle tickets, branding and signage on your selected hole and recognition of your support in event promotions.
Budding golfers, complete beginners and everyone in between can register to take swing at cervical cancer by downloading a registration form online: http://accf.org.au/events/accf-golf-day-2015
The ACCF is a non-for-profit charity organisation aimed at eliminating cervical cancer. Their current projects include raising awareness and education both in Australia and internationally as well as distributing the Gardasil vaccine to females in developing countries where cervical cancer is the largest cancer killer of women. So far, ACCF has vaccinated over 116 000 girls against cervical cancer and looks forward to continuing their efforts to eliminate cervical cancer. www.accf.org.au
Mary has already achieved so much in her short time with ACCF. She has pushed her personal boundaries, and presented ACCF’s message to her peers, discussing cervical cancer and getting them on board to take the TechNO Challenge. ‘Diseases such as cervical cancer aren’t really discussed that much amongst my friends, I think that needs to change so that the focus is on prevention rather than cure’, Mary recognised.
The TechNO Challenge is a fantastic opportunity for Mary to reach out and connect with the youth of Australia. The premise is simple: participants turn off their screens this September! This could be their mobile, laptop, tablet, TV, gaming consoles or all of them; do this for 12, 24 or 48 hours and get sponsored to do so. Absolutely anyone can get involved, and all registered school teams will go into the draw to win a $500 Officeworks voucher.
Mary is a competitor at heart, and is committed to turning off her smartphone; she goes on to say, ‘Although I’ll be anxious about not being able to log on to social media, I think my competitive spirit will kick in and hopefully I can raise as much money as I can for women in developing countries’.
Many people admit to waking up in the morning and the first thing they do is check their phone, scroll on through apps, play games, text friends, or post on a feed. Instead of becoming another statistic in a media driven world Mary and the ACCF is encouraging school kids to put down the phone and go TechNO free for a good cause.
800 women die from cervical cancer worldwide every single day, despite the disease being mostly preventable. That’s one woman every two minutes. It only costs $5 to screen a woman for cervical cancer in a developing country so join Mary and become a part of the TechNO challenge.
Registrations are open now and individuals and teams can register right up until the end of September using the link below. The official weekend to switch off is 19 -20 September but participants can go TechNo free at any time during September.
Today, Federal Minister for Health, the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, announced a National Cancer Screening Register and a new HPV test for cervical cancer that will save lives while potentially reducing the number of intimate screening procedures during a woman’s life by more than half.
In her official statement released today, Ms Ley acknowledged that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and yet 80 per cent of women with cervical cancer have not been screened as regularly as recommended by doctors. The new cervical cancer test will detect the HPV virus that causes the abnormal cell changes. The procedure will replace the current two-yearly Pap test that detects abnormalities in cells, which, if present, only occur many years after HPV infection.
“That’s why the Abbott Government is investing in the roll out of this new test for cervical cancer that will prevent an additional 15 per cent of cervical cancer cases while reducing the number of invasive checks from 26 to just nine across a woman’s life,” Ms Ley said.
Mr Joe Tooma, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation, was thrilled to hear today’s announcement that will be part of more than $600 million worth of new cancer measures to be included in Tuesday’s Budget.
“An added benefit is that, if a woman is found to be clear of infection, then the HPV testing interval is five-yearly, rather than two-yearly like Pap smears. Experts agree that the HPV test is more effective than and just as safe as the Pap test. Women being screened will notice no difference in what happens when they visit their clinic or doctor, other than they may only need to go every five years instead of two. In today’s busy society, I am sure they will appreciate that convenience,” Mr Tooma said.
Ms Ley said that the new National Cervical Screening Programme provided an opportunity to establish a new streamlined, national screening register.
“It can be difficult to keep track of your screening requirements, which is why we are investing in the creation of a single national screening register for cancers to ensure all Australians can remain up to date,” Ms Ley said.
Radio celebrity and cervical cancer survivor Ms Sarah Maree Cameron was excited about the changes: “As someone who has moved around the country, a national screening register means that people can move around and still be contactable for their regular check-up,” Ms Cameron said.
Ms Ley said the new test worked by detecting a HPV infection – the first step in developing cervical cancer – before abnormal cell changes occur. It will only be required once every five years.
“This announcement ensures Australia remains a world leader in cancer prevention, becoming just the second country in the world to adopt this new test as part of a national screening programme,” Ms Ley said.
The Federal Government announced that the HPV test will be available to women aged 25 to 74 on the Medicare Benefits Schedule from 1 May 2017 and a competitive tender for the new National Cancer Screening Register will be released shortly.
Mr Tooma said: “No matter what age is recommended to begin screening, almost no age is too soon for women to begin talking to their doctor or health clinic about their reproductive health and continue that conversation for their whole life time.”
Dolly Magazine Model Search 2014 winner, Mary Stickley may have her schedule jam-packed with school, modelling, photo-shoots and spending time with family and friends but there’s one opportunity she simply couldn’t pass up – taking on the rewarding role of The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation’s (ACCF) Celebrity Ambassador.
At just 15 years of age, the decision to take on the Ambassador role for ACCF was an easy one for Mary. Although the teen doesn’t know anyone with cervical cancer, she had heard about HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) and cervical cancer at school when receiving her immunisation in grade 8. Common among her peers, she admittedly didn’t understand exactly what the injection was for. This acknowledgement alone was great motivation for Mary to accept the position of ACCF Ambassador as she believed she could play a vital role in connecting with her peers to inform them about cervical cancer.
The youngest of seven children, Mary lives in Brisbane with her family and while she has been hailed as the next Miranda Kerr, Mary is an inspirational advocate for living a healthy lifestyle rather than being referred to as just another ‘skinny model’. Passionate about wholesome nutritious food and keeping active, Mary understands that there are so many factors that impact a woman’s health. “Diseases such as cervical cancer aren’ t really discussed that much amongst my friends, I think that needs to change so that the focus is on prevention rather than cure“, Mary recognised.
90% of women that die from cervical cancer have not had regular Pap tests; this statistic is alarming and is a figure that can improve if awareness is heightened. ACCF CEO Joe Tooma explains, “We’re excited to have such a confident and strong role model such as Mary on board and believe that she alone can have a significant influence on both young women and men when it comes to the awareness and prevention of cervical cancer and HPV.”
ACCF is dedicated to reducing the occurrence of cervical cancer in Australia through interactive ageappropriate educational initiatives such as the Cervical Cancer Awareness Program for Schools (CCAPS) program. Supported by Hyundai Help for Kids, CCAPS is a free presentation designed to educate high school students about cervical cancer and HPV. The program aims to raise awareness about prevention, the HPV vaccine, as well as ACCF’s work in developing countries. Delivered to young women and men in both junior and senior grades, the presentation has customised content, length and focus dependant on the age group of the audience.
Along with promoting the CCAPS program, Mary has put her hand up to be the face of the TechNO Challenge; a fantastic opportunity for Mary to really connect with the youth of Australia. The premise is simple: turn off your screens this September! This could be your mobile, laptop, tablet, TV, gaming consoles or all of them; do this for 12, 24 or 48 hours and get sponsored to do so. While the challenge is certainly aimed at highschool students anyone can get involved. A competitor at heart, Mary’s committed to turning off her smartphone, going on to say, “although I’ ll be anxious about not being able to log on to social media, I think my competitive spirit will kick in and hopefully I can raise as much money as I can for women in developing countries”.
ACCF has accomplished many magnificent milestones on the road to eliminating cervical cancer however we still have a long way to go. “The support of the community and inspirational role models such as Mary Stickley is essential to our cause; the scope of awareness we reach is not only dependent on how we spread the word but also by who spreads the word. Mary’s profile and her strong core values regarding health promotion are a great foundation for reaching a much wider audience. ACCF is extremely proud to have Mary as ambassador and together we hope to strengthen the fight to eliminate cervical cancer sooner rather than later,” stated CEO Joe Tooma.
Schools in NSW, QLD, VIC, ACT and WA wishing to book in for a CCAPS presentation can contact ACCF on 1300 727 630 to arrange a visit to their campus. For more information on the CCAPS Program or the TechNo Challenge please visit our website at www.accf.org.au.
The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) is thrilled to announce that it has been named as the Charity Partner for the 2014 Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival which will be held 24-25 October at the Palmer Coolum Resort.
The Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival is the premier fashion event on the Sunshine Coast. Since its inception in 2008, it has become widely recognized on both the national and international circuits for showcasing a seamless expression of taste in fashion. It offers 24 hours of great fashion opportunities in one hectic but very fabulous weekend.
Festival Director Jacinta Richmond said “I am proud to have the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival support the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation. Fashion is largely a female domain, so what better way to assist ACCF in getting the message out to the public, and to females young and old, that cervical cancer is an almost entirely preventable disease.”
Jacinta explains “This is one cancer we shouldn’t have to face in our lives, whether it be friends, family or ourselves. Prevention is possible for young women and the generations to come while early detection is just as simple for the rest of us – a regular Pap test. With the ACCF’s Get the Pap Text SMS reminder service, it’s even simpler to remember to book that appointment. If the Sunshine Coast Fashion Festival’s partnership with ACCF can get the message through to just one woman, (or many women), then one life saved is worth everything to a family somewhere.”
The Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) has today released its recommendations regarding the Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program. In 1991 the National Cervical Screening Program was introduced for women aged 18-69 to receive pap test screening. While the program has been successful, in order to reduce deaths from cervical cancer even further, it is important to review the program taking into account the knowledge and technology advancement and changes in the last 20 years.
The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) CEO Joe Tooma says “I would like to acknowledge the thorough job of the committee experts in reviewing the research and data available prior to putting forward these recommendations. Australian women can be encouraged by the proposed changes.”
Released today, MSAC recommends ‘HPV cervical screening tests’ should replace the current Pap smear testing. The proposed change is to move to a more advanced technology which detects Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which we now know to be the first step in developing 99% of cervical cancers. If women are found to have HPV, the same sample originally collected can receive further testing, which ACCF has been assured will result in an even more reliable result for all screened women.
Tooma explains, “an added benefit is that the HPV testing interval is 5 yearly, rather than 2 yearly like Pap smears. Experts agree that the HPV test is more effective than and just as safe as the Pap test. Women being screened will notice no difference in the testing, other than the fact that they will go every 5 years instead of 2 and in today’s busy society, I am sure they will appreciate that convenience”.
The other major change is the age at which women will be invited to be screened. HPV testing age is proposed to increase from 69 to 74 years of age. It is recommended to commence at the age of 25. This change is recommended on strong research data, given the low rates of women under 25 with cervical cancer and the significant proportion of women under 30 who have now been vaccinated against HPV. The proven success of the HPV vaccine has already shown a large reduction in cervical abnormalities among women younger than 25 years of age and will continue to reduce the risk of cervical abnormalities in this age group. Vaccinated and unvaccinated women over the age of 25 will still need to be screened as the vaccine protects against HPV which causes 80% of cervical cancer but not against all HPV types. Under the proposed recommendations, any woman, at any age with concerns about symptoms can have a cervical screening test.
ACCF welcomes changes to screening which will continue to reduce the number of women suffering and dying from cervical cancer. Never screened or under-screened women will be invited to undertake a simpler, private, self-administered test under nurse or doctor supervision. “We hope that the above changes will continue to reduce the 43% of women who are currently not going for their regular screening. 80% of women with cervical cancer have not been screened or have not had regular screening tests and we hope that by making screening more accessible and efficient for women, this number will decline.”
“We encourage all women, especially young women, to take their reproductive health seriously and start developing a relationship as early as possible with a doctor or clinic they are comfortable with no matter what age cervical screening commences” Tooma states.
Pending policy approval of these recommendations, it is anticipated that changes will not be implemented prior to 2016. However, until the above changes are implemented women should continue to have two yearly Pap tests. Women will still get their official reminder letter but they can also sign up for a free voluntary SMS reminder at ACCF’s Get the Pap Text.
Almost two in three women who took part in a candid Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) survey admitted their top barriers to having a regular Pap test were feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable about having the potentially life-saving procedurei.
The ACCF online poll surveyed more than 100 Australian women on the Pap test to help understand why almost 43% of Australian women between 18 and 69 years are not having the recommended two-yearly procedureii. The quick poll results were released to coincide with National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week (18-24 November 2013).
The majority of respondents said they would rather have a blood test (37%), speak in public (16%) and go to the dentist (19%) than have a Pap test (12%), when ranking well-known common fearsiii.
ACCF CEO Joe Tooma says it is startling Australian women were still avoiding having a Pap test that could potentially save lives.
“It’s not surprising that some respondents find having a Pap test somewhat invasive and uncomfortable – but it shouldn’t be a reason to avoid having a Pap test. Cervical cancer is a preventable disease if detected and treated early. It’s particularly concerning when we know around 90% of women who die from cervical cancer have not had regular Pap testsiv,” Joe said.
During National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, ACCF will hold its Be Bright campaign to help empower women to be smart and proactive about their health by having regular Pap tests.
The charity is urging all Australian women to sign up for the Get the Pap Text, a free SMS reminder service that is sent to Australian women during the month they nominate to have their two-yearly Pap test.
ACCF will celebrate its Be Bright campaign at major public sites in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney on 18th, 20th and 22nd November, encouraging people to buy either an orange gerbera or ribbon to recognise the impact of cervical cancer, while contributing to important funds for research and prevention.
Anyone can sign up to Get the Pap Text by visiting accf.org.au or calling 1300 727 630 to ensure they never forget their next Pap test.
i ACCF, 2013, Pap Test Quick Poll, accessed on 8 November 2013
ii AIHW, 2010-2011, Cervical Cancer Screening, accessed at http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129543402 on 30 August 2013
iii ACCF, 2013, Pap Test Quick Poll, accessed on 8 November 2013
iv Papscreen Victoria, 2013, accessed at http://www.papscreen.org,au/forthemedia/cervical-cancer-pap-tests-statistics on 3 September 2013
A review of Australia’s national cervical cancer screening program has prompted concern from advocacy groups.
Australia has the lowest death rate in the world for cervical cancer thanks to our national screening program. So why are there discussions to change this proven and successful approach? That’s the question being asked by cancer advocacy groups. In its review of the screening program, the Federal Department of Health is considering proposals which include extending the gap between Pap smears from every two years to every three years, delaying the start of testing from the age of 18 to 25 and even giving women access to a do- it- yourself test they could use at home. But cancer advocacy groups have expressed concern that any of these proposed changes could lead to even greater complacency among women, particularly those who already delay their biennial checks at a risk to their health. And they may have a reason to be worried – the latest figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveal that just 57 per cent of women in the target population had been screened in the previous two years. 1 of 3 women who died from cervical cancer, 90 per cent hadn’t had the test as often as recommended.
Our Good Record
Since the national screening program was introduced here 22 years ago, incidence of cervical cancer has fallen significantly and death rates have halved. With the introduction of new technology and a vaccine that can protect against the two most common human papillomavirus (HPV) strains, some health experts say the review is timely. But not everyone agrees that increasing the gap between tests by 50 per cent is a good idea. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommended in 2004 that screening should start at the of age 25 and be carried out every three years for younger women. In Australia it currently stands at age 18 (or one to two years after first sexual intercourse). Other proposals in the Federal review include screening every three years from ages 25 -49, then every five years up to the age of 65; and ending regular screening at 65, instead of 69. Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) chief executive Joe Tooma fears that if the proposed interval is adopted, women who currently have a Pap test every three years might only get one every four or five years. “Just because WHO recommends something doesn’t mean Australia can’t do better than that,” Tooma says. “[The Federal Government] needs to convince women it’s going to be better, not just cheaper.”He cautions that women should be screened every two years, because, like most cancers, early detection is the key to survival.
Karen Canfell, a University of NSW academic, advisor to the cancer Council Australia and chair of its screening committee, says the review is timely and is about improving outcomes for women. “lt would bring us into line from a technology perspective with other countries,” Canfell says. “lt would really help us redesign the program around the interface between screening and vaccination.” She says Australian health experts are open to the changes because evidence from overseas hasn’t shown a significant difference in incidence rates with the longer screening intervals. “Australia does screen very intensively by international standards with our current starting age of 18 and two yearly screening interval,” Associate Professor Dorota Gettig, medical director of the Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry, says. “International screening programs, such as in the UK, start at age 25 and have a longer screening interval and have been shown to have a very similar benefit in terms of effect on cervical cancer incidence and mortality.” However, like Tooma, Canfell stresses that young women, whether they’re vaccinated or not, still need regular screening. “The vaccine has had incredible effects in reducing abnormalities but it doesn’t protect against all HPV types that can cause cervical cancer, so screening is still a very important strategy and it’s absolutely vital for older women [too],” she says.
Get A Pap test reminder
Sign up for a free SMS Pap test reminder from the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation at accf.org. au/getthepaptext 90% The percentage of womenwho die from cervical cancer in Australia who haven’t had their Pap test as regularly as recommended. 100,000+ The number of Australians diagnosed with an abnormal Pap test result which, if treated early, may not develop into cervical cancer. 43% The percentage of Aussie women who don’t have the biennial Pap tests. DON’T SKIP THE SMEAR That’s the sentiment echoed by Gertig. “This is a very important message,” she says. “Women who were vaccinated at an olderage, after they were already sexually active, may have already been exposed to high -risk HPV and therefore the vaccine may not have protected them. “Vaccination doesn’t eliminate the need for screening but it provides added protection, so vaccination and screening gohand in hand.” In the latest Report to the Nation: Cervical Cancer 2012 by Cancer Australia, figures show there were 778 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in Australia in 2008 with 208 deaths the previous year. While cervical cancer may not be Australia’s deadliest cancer, Tooma says the ACCF needs to be convinced that any changes to the screening recommendations won’t result in a single extra preventable death. “Kids become sexually active younger so it can be 10 years before they get their first Pap test,” he says. “A good argument for starting [testing] at 18 is thatit creates a lifetime habit.
For the latest health news and breakthroughs visit bodyandsoul.com.au
By Sharon Lab
To celebrate National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week from 18-24 November 2013, the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation will launch its Be Bright campaign, calling for Australian
women to sign up to its free Get the Pap Text reminder service.
Get the Pap Text is an SMS reminder sent to Australian women during the month they nominate for their two-yearly Pap test.
Cervical cancer is a preventable disease if detected and treated early. Currently 43% of Australian women are not having the recommended two-yearly Pap tests which can detect pre-cancer and early stages of cervical cancer.i
More than 100,000 Australian women are diagnosed with having an abnormal Pap test result which if treated early should not develop into cervical cancer.ii
Alarmingly, out of the women who are not having regular Pap tests, more than 80,000 of will have cell abnormalities which could lead to cervical cancer.iii Around 90% of women who die
from cervical cancer have not had regular Pap tests.iv
The Foundation’s Be Bright campaign aims to empower women to be smart and proactive about their health by having regular Pap tests, with the Get the Pap Text part of this activity.
Anyone can sign up to Get the Pap Text by visiting accf.org.au or calling (07) 3177 1099 and ensure they never forget their next Pap test.
When and where: National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week will be celebrated nationwide from 18-24 November 2013. Details on Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation’s Be Bright campaign activity held during the week will be shared over the coming months.
Katie Croft, Red Agency, 03 9670 8350, 0413 780 545, Katie.email@example.com
Gemma Doughty, Red Agency, 03 9670 8350, Gemma.firstname.lastname@example.org
i AIHW, 2010-2011, Cervical Cancer Screening, accessed at http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=60129543402 on 30
ii AIHW, 2013, Cervical screening in Australia 2010-2011 Cancer series 76. Cat. no. CAN 72. Canberra: AIHW
iii AIHW, 2013, Cervical screening in Australia 2010-2011 Cancer series 76. Cat. no. CAN 72. Canberra: AIHW
iv Papscreen Victoria, 2013, accessed at http://www.papscreen.org,au/forthemedia/cervical-cancer-pap-tests-statistics on 3
EVERYONE loves a success story and there can be few greater in health than Professor Ian Frazer’s anti-cervical cancer HPV vaccine.
The discovery of a vaccine to prevent infection by the wart virus is nothing short of world-changing.
It has been estimated to have saved the lives of one million women globally and we can all be proud this breakthrough occurred in Queensland.
This week Prof Frazer was a speaker at the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation appeal to raise funds to enable vaccination programs to be undertaken by volunteers in countries such as Nepal and Bhutan where cervical cancer remains a leading cause of death among young women.
It is estimated that infections of one type or another are involved in up to 20 per cent of all cancers.
Viruses from the HPV family cause genital warts in both sexes and have been implicated in mouth, throat and anal cancers.
This week, American actor Michael Douglas publicly stated he believed his throat cancer was as a result of HPV infection which helped bring the matter to the world’s attention.
He has since changed his view but there is plenty of scientific evidence to suggest wart virus can cause head and neck cancers.
When a virus infects a cell, it inserts some of its genetic material into the infected cell’s DNA and takes over control of that cell to produce more copies of itself. Instead of doing its regular job, the infected cell is reduced to being a factory producing virus particles.
This is the way viruses reproduce and when an infected cell explodes or dies, it releases millions of new viral particles which can then go on to infect other cells.
The HPV virus also causes insertion of a cancer forming “oncogene” into the cell DNA, leading to production of proteins which turn off some of the cell’s protective mechanisms. In this way, an infected cell can be “transformed” into a malignant cell.
About 80 per cent of school-aged girls get the vaccine and this should decrease the risk of cervical cancer by up to 80 per cent.
The recent decision by the Federal Government to fund vaccination programs for school-aged boys will further halt the spread of the virus.
Alarmingly, over half of Australia’s women aged 20-25 don’t have regular smears – this remains a significant risk factor for developing cancer. Of the women who die from cervical cancer, 90 per cent have not had their recommended smears.
This last statistic is difficult to accept when we consider that for millions of women in less fortunate countries, effective screening is simply not available.
The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF) is excited to hear the Federal Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek’s announcement that Australian boys will also now be eligible to receive the successful Gardasil® vaccine.
This will help protect Australia’s youth against developing a range of deadly cancers and bolster the effectiveness of this anti-cancer vaccine in women. Around 4 out of 5 males and females will be exposed to human papillomavirus (HPV) in their lifetime. HPV is the cause of cervical cancer and a known cause of other deadly cancers. HPVs are easily, commonly and often unknowingly spread by sexual contact and men as well as women can die from the cancers they cause.
In a world first from 2013, Australian schoolboys aged 12-13 years will receive the vaccine through school-based programs under the National Immunisation Program. Year 9 boys will also be able to get the vaccine at school under a catch-up program for the next two years.
The vaccine, an Australian innovation led by Professor Ian Frazer AC (currently ACCF’s Scientific Advisor), protects against four important genotypes of HPV. Australia has been a world-leader by the early introduction of a National HPV Vaccination Program for women.
Mr Tooma says, “The Health Minister’s announcement is a very exciting and significant step in giving Australia a real chance of eliminating cervical cancer in women and other deadly cancers in men and women, possibly within the next generation.”
Mr Tooma offered his congratulations to the government saying, “The $21m being spent over the next 4 years on a HPV Vaccination Program for schoolboys is money very well spent and will have an enormous impact on the health and welfare of our young people. There is no doubt it will eventually save hundreds of lives every year, enormous personal trauma and tens of millions of dollars in health costs every year.”
“It is important that the vaccine must be made available to all Australian schoolboys. It is essential to ensure that not just boys in capital cities get vaccinated but that we ensure that young men in remote and rural areas, including young indigenous men, are also strongly encouraged to have the vaccine.” said Mr Tooma
Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation CEO Joe Tooma says “Again, Australia leads the world by introducing a HPV Vaccination Program for both schoolgirls and schoolboys. Perhaps the most significant impact of this announcement will be that other countries will follow Australia’s lead in fighting one of the biggest cancer killers in women worldwide. This important public health measure can give the world a real chance of eliminating cervical cancer which should be an entirely preventable disease.”
For more information please visit: www.accf.org.au
As the school term ends and school holidays begin, most students are setting down their school bags to relax with friends and revel in the blissful freedoms of youth and frivolity.
Defying these teenage norms are ten senior students from Loreto College Coorparoo, who joined forces with the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF), to treck for a change and embark on the adventure of a lifetime.
The intrepid travellers took part in ACCF’s Real Life Challenge, and have taken their travels to the Northern Territory to immerse themselves in adventure as well as putting their trekking skills to the test.
Stepping out of their comfort zone, the girls have spent their time climbing mountains, traversing gullies and trekking through some of the most challenging routes in Australia. The trip highlights included watching the sunrise from Mt Sonder, a well earned view after a 3:00am wake up call for a trek led by torchlight, rekindling their Australian spirit singing “I Still Call Australia Home” from the top of a cliff, as well as rendering themselves speechless at the beauty of the Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek, and Euro Ridge.
The trek aimed to develop life skills for the Loreto students, as well as spreading the ACCF’s message to educate Australian women about cervical cancer.
Larissa Clarridge, a Loreto student, marvelled at the incredible challenges the students faced.
“It’s been an amazing experience and one of the greatest things I’ve ever done. It was very challenging, but knowing that I’ve overcome those challenges is a really exciting prospect. It’s been a really incredible experience and I’m so glad I got to do it”, Larissa said.
“I didn’t realise the difference between the health of Aboriginal people compared to the rest of Australia. I didn’t realise how much worse off Aboriginal women were. So now that has encouraged me to help close the gap and encourage them to take the Pap test and reduce their risk of developing cervical canver”, Larissa said.
One of the highlights of the trek was visiting the remote community of Santa Teresa where the local indigenous women paint beautiful silk scarves and crosses to raise funds for their community.
“Santa Teresa was an amazing remote community. It was wonderful to meet the local indigenous healer and women artists who make beautiful, individual artwork, bringing income into their community.” said Julie Weston, the ACCF Tour Coordinator.
Their adventure has been in aid of the ACCF and their quest to raise awareness about cervical cancer, especially the higher incidence of cervical cancer within indigenouse communities; ACCF CEO Joe Tooma understands the importance of cervical cancer awareness in indigenous communities.
“Indigenous women are five times more likely to die from cervical cancer than non-indigenous women”, Mr Tooma said.
The trekkers visited a women’s clinic in Alice Springs where they learnt about some of the health issues local women and women in remote places throughout Australia experience. Cheryl Hamilton, Principal of Loreto College, was able to learn more about women’s health, a crucial message she looks forward to teaching her students.
“I have a heightened awareness of the difficulty of getting the message to indigenous communities as well as non-indigenous women too. It’s a difficult message to get across and it’s a big job that the ACCF has in front of them”, Ms Hamilton said.
The students from Loreto College share ACCF’s passion towards raising awareness and promoting the facts about cervical cancer, and understand the importance of education towards closing the gap between indigenous communities.
“By raising awareness and getting the message out there, we can look towards closing the gap. It’s a simple message and if we convey that message effectively, we will close the gap”, Ms Hamilton said.
It’s a long battle ahead to eliminate cervical canver. However, with the help of the latest group of committed ambassadors from Loreto College, the ACCF is committed to completing that journey and ensuring equal cervical health education and screening processes to all Australians.
As part of the Real Life Challenge, the students have been raising crucial funds for ACCF’s projects both in Australia and overseas. So far Loreto College Coorparoo has raised over $8,000 for the foundation.
If you would like to help this amazing cause, please visit http://www.everydayhero.com.au/loreto_college.
The ACCF is a not-for-profit organisation aimed at eliminating cervical cancer. Their current projects include raising awareness and education both in Australia and internationally as well as distributing the Gardasil vaccine to females in developing countries where cervical cancer is the highest cancer killer in females. So far the Foundation has helped to vaccinate over 70 000 girls against cervical cancer and looks forward to continuing their efforts to eliminate cervical cancer.
News articles have hailed Professor Ian Frazer as “God’s gift to women” and now he has been honoured with the Companion of the Order of Australia, the highest award of the Queen’s Birthday honours list.
Professor Frazer, the co-inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine and Scientific Advisor of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation (ACCF), is dedicated to the elimination of cervical cancer and has used this award to outline the importance of science in Australian society.
“This honour provides the opportunity to acknowledge the work of all researchers throughout Australia” he said.
Professor Frazer and colleagues Mike Wille OAM, Lenore Wille and Linda Lavarch established ACCF to share this gift of life-saving HPV cervical cancer vaccine with girls, in developing countries, who cannot otherwise afford vaccination. Since 2008, over 70,000 girls in Nepal, Bhutan and Kiribati have benefitted as a result of ACCF’s work in just a few short years.
Joe Tooma, CEO of ACCF, says that the ACCF is committed to continuing Professor Frazer’s ambition of making the life-saving cervical cancer vaccine available to women in developing nations where cervical cancer is the number one cancer killer of women.
“Cervical cancer is the biggest cancer killer of women in the developing world, with the introduction of the vaccine and with improved screening programs, we are determined to help reduce this number and to one day eradicate cervical cancer altogether which is entirely possible” he said.
The AC award is just one of many awards received by Professor Ian Frazer, including the 2006 Australian of the Year Award and earlier this year being named a National Living Treasure.
Whilst the rate of deaths from cervical cancer in Australia have halved since the introduction of the National Pap Testing Program 20 years ago, 43% of Australian women are still not being screened for cervical cancer every 2 years as is recommended. The ACCF works in Australia to create awareness about how cervical cancer can be prevented and to help support those affected by the disease.
The ACCF is dedicated to eradicating cervical cancer through education and raising awareness while it actively vaccinates women in developing countries from the disease.
ACCF in the Media
7 Novermber, 2016, New Idea: These simple tests could save your life
September/October Edition 2016, Dolly Magazine: Take the test
20 June 2014, Manly Daily: Don’t miss Pap test says lucky mum who beat cancer to have miracle baby
17 June 2014, Solomon Star: War on cervical cancer: Vaccination to start next year
4 February, 2014, Mamamia: The Test That Saved My Life
22 November, 2013, MX: Smear Campaign, Call for women to take action on cancer risk
20 November, 2013, The Courier Mail: Salon, Goodby to Layla’s Free Time
20 November, 2013 Herald Sun: Alarm at Pap Test Worries
18 November, 2013 , ABC: Alarming fall in women being screened for cervical cancer
15 November, 2013, The Australian: Professor urges women to have pap smears
7 November, 2013, Take 5: I can see something
July 2013, Domesitic Blitz Channel Nine: ACCF ambassodors feature on Channel Nine’s Domestic Blitz
February 2013, CLEO Magazine: “I was diagnosed with cervical cancer at 23”
4 September, 2012, CSRwire: Republic of Uganda and Merck Launch Cervical Cancer Vaccination Program
16 August, 2012, Femail.com.au: Joe Tooma and Doctor Jonathan Carter Falling Pap Test Figures Interview
18 July, 2012, Cleo: So, um, when was the last time you had a Pap Test?
13 July, 2012, ABC Radio National: Homosexual community to benefit most from extension of Gardasil vaccine
3 July, 2012, ABC Radio National: Doctors concerned at decline in pap smears
23 June, 2012, The Courier Mail: Loreto students take cancer fight to Red Centre
Courtesy of Ten News.
Cervical Health News
26 May, 2016, Pulse+IT: Telstra Health wins $178.3m contract to build cancer screening register