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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) says the country is making strides in reducing cervical cancer through increased screenings and public education.
  • In an interview with JIS News, Gynaecologist and member of the JCS board, Dr. Wendel Guthrie, said the prevalence of cervical cancer in Jamaica is fewer than 30 per 100,000 persons, while in other developing countries, the rate is 40 cases per 100,000.
  • Dr. Guthrie noted that worldwide, about 266,000 women die from cervical cancer each year. In low-income countries, cervical cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer death.

The Jamaica Cancer Society (JCS) says the country is making strides in reducing cervical cancer through increased screenings and public education.

In an interview with JIS News, Gynaecologist and member of the JCS board, Dr. Wendel Guthrie, said the prevalence of cervical cancer in Jamaica is fewer than 30 per 100,000 persons, while in other developing countries, the rate is 40 cases per 100,000.

“This is one of the best figures in the Caribbean other than Cuba, which is a single digit figure. In the US and Canada and Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland) the number of cases is under 10 per 100,000 and we would like to aim for that,” he said.

Dr. Guthrie explained that those countries are recording fewer cases of cervical cancer because they have established proper screening programmes, with testing cycles ranging from once per year to every two or three years.

“A good screening programme should be able to do at least 80 percent of the population in a particular screening cycle. If you are able to cover 70 to 80 percent of the population, you would be able to bring the statistics down significantly,” he pointed out.

He said the recommendation is for annual screenings in Jamaica. Just over 30,000  women in Jamaican are tested for cervical cancer on a yearly basis but a proper screening programme could cover approximately 350,000 per year, he pointed out.

Dr. Guthrie noted that worldwide, about 266,000 women die from cervical cancer each year. In low-income countries, cervical cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer death.

He stressed the importance of women doing annual Pap smears in order to identify early signs of abnormal cells in the cervix, assuring that the process is not painful.

In addition to regular Pap smears, human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are increasingly being administered to protect against some high-risk strains of this family of viruses and may prevent up to 90 percent of cervical cancers.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) and can cause cervical and other cancers.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for preteen girls and boys ages 11 to 12 so they are protected before ever being exposed to the virus. The vaccine produces a more robust immune response during the preteen years.

Dr. Guthrie informed that there are two types of HPV vaccinations available in Jamaica – Bivalent and Quadrivalent.

He told JIS News that the culture of vaccinating Jamaican children for HPV is not as common as in other countries, although some parents do have the vaccine administered by a paediatrician.