A RISE in HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STI) in women has also contributed to the rise in cervical cancer.
This is because the causative agent for cervical cancer is an STI called human papilloma virus.
About 1, 000 women die from cervical cancer in PNG every year.
But there is hope in preventing this chronic disease from killing the womenfolk now that the HPV vaccine is available in the country.
More good news is that the radiotherapy unit at Lae’s Angau Memorial Hospital is under refurbishment and once completed would allow women with cervical cancer to seek treatment there.
According to gynaeocologist Prof Glen Mola, a group at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the Ministry of Health were in the process of applying for assistance from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation Foundation (GAVI) to get supplies of the HPV vaccine.
The HPV vaccine is used to prevent the human papilloma virus that infects the cervix of women, causing cervical cancer.
Earlier this year, Pacific International Hospital advertised the vaccine for sale at K800 per shot.
Three injections are necessary over a six-month period to produce good immunity to the HPV.
“Over the past two years, some countries have made national policies to offer the vaccine to all young girls so that they do not run the risk of getting cervix cancer later on in their lives,” Prof Mola said.
“Australia was one of the first countries to introduce the vaccine (2007) nationwide and recently UK and some Scandinavian and European countries have followed.
“Last year, Fiji received some donated vaccine and was able to vaccinate 30,000 school girls.
“We hope to be able to offer this life-saving vaccine to PNG school girls too.
“All PNG parents should look forward to the HPV vaccine being available in PNG for general distribution and make sure their daughter gets it.
“Cancer of the cervix does not kill quickly.
“Women with this kind of cancer develop blood discharge that smells putrid (very unpleasant) and die slowly with prolonged misery.”
He said information about avoiding HPV and cancer of the cervix needed to be given to primary school age girls and for women in ante-natal clinics, baby clinics and post-natal clinics.
However, Prof Mola said that it was a bit too late because these women were already sexually active.
He added that in order to prevent cervical cancer, one needed to avoid HPV infection – “this means that you have sex only after you reach 20 years and you don’t have sex with multiple sexual partners, or get a partner who has had multiple sexual partners or if you make a sexual behavior mistake, then you must use a condom”.