Irish Examiner – 22 January 2010
EVERY woman who has ever had a sexual relationship is in danger of getting cervical cancer. This fact may surprise the many people who believe that the disease is only relevant to heterosexual females with an active or even promiscuous' sex life.
Cervical cancer is so prevalent that it is he second most common cancer affecting women in Ireland under 44 years of age, ausing 90 deaths a year in this country and quarter of a million worldwide.
So with great enthusiasm the Irish Family Tanning Association (IFPA) has welcomed he dramatic u-turn by health minister 'Mary Harney on the cervical cancer vaccination programme.
A national cervical cancer vaccination 'programme for all girls in first year in secondary school – estimated at 30,000 – will go ahead this year.
The campaign for a 26-county vaccination programme went from low to high priority following the very public death of Big Brother's Jade Goody on Mother's Day last March.
Dr Caitriona Henchion, medical director of the IFPA says the combination of population-based screening and school-based vaccination programmes has the potential to eliminate cervical cancer in a generation.
"This vaccination will provide immunity against the two strains of human papilloma viruses (HPV) which cause about 70% of .cervical cancer," she says.
The IFPA urges the health minister to follow the recommendations of The Health Information and Quality Authorityb (HIQA) for a school-based vaccination programme, which according to HIQA has the potential to save 52 lives a year.
January 24-30 is Cervical Cancer Prevention week and using the pearl of wisdom logo, the IFPA has joined forces with the Irish Hairdressers Federation (IHF) in a bid to increase awareness of the need for screening and the means of prevention.
All 330 member salons of the IHF will help distribute pearl of wisdom campaign badges and information leaflets about cervical check to women for the duration of the Prevention Week.
The Marie Keating Foundation will also be selling badges and all proceeds will go directly to the foundation.
Dr Henchion of the IFPA says it can affect every woman.
But it can be prevented by:
- Having regular smear tests
- Using condoms during sex
- Delaying the onset of sexual activity
- STI screening
- Giving up smoking