14 Mar 2013

PNG cervical cancer rates among highest in world

2:05 pm on 14 March 2013

The leader of a cervical cancer screening and treatment trial in Papua New Guinea says researchers believe they will have sufficient data within the next few months to make the drafting of definitive policy possible.

The head of science at PNG's Institute of Medical Research, Andrew Vallely, says cervical cancer kills 1,500 women a year, more than any other cancer, a rate among the highest in the world.

He says pap smear screening has worked very well in urban areas over the last decade but is not as successful in rural parts of the country where the majority of women live and can be difficult to locate.

Dr Vallely says a simultaneous screening and treatment early intervention programme being trialled in the Highlands is likely to be rolled out across PNG.

"I think finally we now feel that all of us together are getting to the stage where we'll soon have the data that can help policy makers develop definitive policy in these areas both for primary prevention, which is vaccination and also secondary prevention, so screening and early treatment."

Andrew Vallely says researchers are also looking at how much of the cervical cancer-causing type of the HPV virus is present in the community.