Money raised by Girls’ Night In events goes towards research, prevention and support for all women’s cancers. Thanks to past Girls’ Night In supporters, all women will soon benefit from Cancer Council research into cervical cancer prevention and screening.
Australia has been at the forefront of cervical cancer prevention for decades, but this year the National Cervical Screening Program is going to change. Biennial Pap smears will soon be replaced with five-yearly tests for HPV (human papillomavirus), which is responsible for 99% of cervical cancers. The new Cervical Screening Test detects human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers.
While the current Pap test can detect abnormal cell changes, the new Cervical Screening Test will detect the HPV infection that can cause the abnormal cell changes, prior to the development of cancer.
Testing will also start later, at age 25 instead of 18-20, because screening young women does not seem to reduce their risk of cervical cancer – unlike the HPV vaccine which is already dramatically reducing HPV infections and cervical abnormalities in young women.
Cancer Council research helped inform these significant changes, which are expected to reduce cancer cases and deaths by 20%.
Since its introduction in 1991, the National Cervical Screening Program has been very successful: the incidence and mortality from cervical cancer in Australia fell by around 50% in the first decade.
Although Australia already has one of the lowest incidences of cervical cancer in the world, these changes will lead to even better outcomes for women.
The results of Cancer Council’s work not only helped convince the government to change the cervical screening program in Australia, but an overview of the research was published in The Lancet Public Health, a leading international journal.
That’s just one of the ways Girls’ Night In is contributing to cancer research, and making a real difference to women’s lives.