Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Kicking Off in Croatia

Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Kicking Off in Croatia

January 13, 2023 - Public Health Croatia: a new national preventive program will cover women from 20 to 64 years of age, with the aim of reducing the incidence of cervical cancer, the most preventable type of cancer.

As 24Sata writes, the national cervical cancer early detection program in Croatia will be re-introduced next year. It will be preceded by a one-year pilot project in the Virovitica-Podravina County, as announced by public health representatives announced on Thursday for the European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

"The first phase will be implemented from March in the Virovitica-Podravina County and will last one year," said State Secretary in the Ministry of Health Marija Bubaš, while the director of the Institute for Public Health of the Virovitica-Podravina County Miroslav Venus explained that the pilot phase will determine the necessary prerequisites and resources for the program to come to life at the national level in 2024.

The new national program aims to improve the results of early detection of cervical cancer, reducing its incidence and mortality.

In Croatia, cervical cancer is the third most common cancer among women aged 30 to 49 (after breast and thyroid cancer). It mainly affects the age group of 35 to 55 years, when many affected women are actively engaged in work and family life.

"A third of all diagnosed women are under the age of 50", warned the director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ), Krunoslav Capak.

In Croatia, about 320 women are diagnosed annually, and about 120 die

In the last ten years, on average, about 320 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Croatia, and about 120 die. Almost every case could have been prevented by vaccination against HPV and going to a gynecologist for a preventive examination.

In 99.7 percent of cases, this type of cancer is caused by long-term infection with HPV, which is transmitted sexually, so early detection of cervical cell changes can successfully prevent cancer.

The working group of the Ministry of Health agreed that in the first phase of the National Plan, the so-called co-testing, i.e., a Pap test and an HPV test would be performed from one sample of surface cells of the cervix, which is considered the most appropriate innovative method in detecting this type of cancer.

Danijela Vrdoljak Mozetić, a specialist in clinical cytology from KBC Rijeka, emphasized the importance of co-testing - the Pap test detects the pre-stages of cancer, while the HPV test detects the presence of viruses in the cells.

A positive HPV test does not mean the existence of the disease, but does indicate a risk, explained Vrdoljak Mozetić.

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