Home » Women's healthcare » A breakthrough in HPV screening: a hope to defeat cervical cancer

Monika Destruelle

Sr. EMEA Product Manager, HPV, BD

Every year in Ireland, about 290 women get cervical cancer. Almost 90 of them die from it. In women aged 25 to 39 years, cervical cancer is the second most common cause of death due to cancer1 and the 11th most frequent cancer among women in Europe.2

HPV cervical screening was introduced in March 2020. This will mean fewer false negatives, as it’s a better way to screen for cervical cancer.3 It is available to people with a cervix aged 25 to 65 in Ireland.

Despite vigorous cervical cancer screening programmes and high-profile campaigns from charities such as Jo’s Trust, screening is still not reaching 20% of people with a cervix in Ireland.4

Reasons for skipping

Monika Destruelle, EMEA Senior Product Manager HPV for global medical technology company BD, says there is a myriad of reasons for the 20% or so women who do not go for screening.

“It might be that they feel too embarrassed, hold certain religious beliefs, find it uncomfortable — or they will skip their appointment that day because they simply didn’t have time,” she says.

“Over half of all cervical cancers are diagnosed in women who have never been screened or have not been screened in the previous five years — a situation that has been compounded by the global pandemic. There were large disruptions in services and programmes.”

Only with a combination of good screening
programmes and the HPV vaccinations
will we eventually reach our goal
of eradicating this type of cancer.

Elimination goal

Things are set to improve with an at-home, self-collection method of testing. Additionally, in 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched its global strategy to Accelerate the Elimination of Cervical Cancer.

“WHO says that the 70%of women should be screened by 2030 — that is their target,” says Monika. “At-home, self-collection has the most potential to help address the urgent public health challenge of reaching women who do not regularly attend or have access to cervical cancer screening.”

The BD Onclarity™ HPV Assay received the industry’s first at-home, self-collection claim for HPV screening (CE-marked). It is approved for use with samples collected using appropriate devices outside of healthcare facilities.

Home collection kits

Monika says: “We believe that self-collection can help increase participation. Every woman that is screened is a gain. It will eventually become the routine method for screening because of other factors like the rapidly decreasing workforce and the increasing need to make cost savings.”

Monika concludes: “However, screening alone is not enough. Only with a combination of good screening programmes and the HPV vaccinations will we eventually reach our goal of eradicating this type of cancer.”

The home collection kit will comprise a swab and instructions on how to do the quick test. It is then returned to the relevant testing labs via posting.

[1] https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/cervical-cancer/overview/#:~:text=Every%20year%20in%20Ireland%20about,those%20women%20die%20from%20it.
[2] https://ecis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/pdf/factsheets/cervical_cancer_en-Nov_2021.pdf
[3] https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/cervical-screening/why-go/what-cervical-screening-is/
[4] https://www.screeningservice.ie/news/news.php?idx=285#:~:text=We%20have%20a%20very%20high,people%20who%20are%20eligible%20attend.

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