Based on a WHO report, cervical cancer is worldwide the second most frequent cancer in women. The incidence of cervical cancer is the highest in Taiwan so it can be said as an invisible killer to woman health. It is most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 25-45. Death rate from cervical cancer is the fourth most lethal in female cancer representing 4% of all cancer deaths which trails lung cancer, liver cancer and colon cancer. Taiwan government launched pap smear screening program in 1995. After more than 20 years now, cervical cancer cases have dropped significantly.
A Lifetime in 6 Minute
Research has showed that pap smears taken once every three years can reduce incidence and mortality rates of cervical cancer by 60-90%. Taiwan government implemented pap smear screening in 1995 in companied with the famous slogan—“a lifetime in 6 minutes”. Simply by taking the 6-minute easy smear test, precancerous cervical changes can be detected and cured. The test can protect our women away from the threats of cervical cancer.
Statistics from Health Promotion Administration shows that since full implementation of pap smear test in 1995, incidence rate of invasive carcinoma has dropped from 27 per 100000 women in 1992 to 17 per 100000(-36%). Besides, based on statistics, deaths from cervical cancer have dropped from 1010 in 1995 to 874 in 2005, which indicates the effectiveness of smear test promotion. Although rate of incidence has slightly increased, overall death rate has gradually declined. It also indicates that early detection and treatment can decrease mortality rate by 60%-90%. The 5-year survival rate for patients in stage 1 is more than 90%. Thus, it is necessary to receive smear screening regularly, which is why our government has actively emphasized the importance of pap smear screening once every three years to women over age 30.
In order to increase screening rate, since 2010, 232 HPA subsidized hospitals has invited women over age 30 to smear test. Comparing to the number in 2009, test receivers grew by 1.1 times.
HPV Vaccination Listed as Free Vaccine Program Began in 2018
The government expended the program of subsidized smear test to further involve free HPV vaccination in 2018.
Taiwan Food and Drug Administration has first time approved a HPV vaccine in 2006. Late December in 2018, all at the time 7th grade female students were entitled to receive free HPV2 (Cervarix), which could have cost NTD6000-7000. To promote women’s health, WHO has listed HPV vaccine as recommended in 2016. Taiwan HPA believes that public health resources should be equally shared in all counties and cities, so they decided to list HPV vaccination as part of the free vaccine program.
Preventive Medicine Can Help Improving Survival Rate of Cervical Cancer
The government has raised the importance of women’s health by implementing subsidies on smear test and HPV vaccination. Both smear screening and HPV vaccination are part of preventive medicine. They cannot protect us from all high-risk viruses, but by regular smear test, improving screening rate to locate more potential patients and increasing the survival rate, we can maximize the effectiveness of cervical cancer prevention.
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