First major survey of cervical cancer in Papua New Guinea (PNG)

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (IRIN) – A large-scale survey of cervical cancer will be launched later this month in Papua New Guinea (PNG), where more than 1,500 women die of the disease each year.

“Results of the study will be available later in 2013 when, for the first time, PNG will have the necessary evidence to build a solid public health policy in this area,” Andrew Vallely, deputy director of science at the PNG Institute of Medical Research, who will be overseeing the study, told IRIN.

Cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), with the two most common types (HPV16 and HPV18) resulting in 75 percent of all cancers. While effective vaccines are available against both, authorities do not know how much or what type of HPV they are dealing with.

According to the World Health Organization, cervical cancer is the most common cancer among women aged 15-44 in PNG. There is no data on the HPV burden in PNG’s general population, but worldwide an estimated 11.4 percent of women harbour cervical HPV.

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