The Israel Cancer Association joins European initiative led by the European Cervical Cancer Association (ECCA) and announces launch of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week to take place this year from the 19th -25th January
Background information on cervical cancer
Cervical cancer may develop slowly over many years. Before the disease develops, early changes take place in the cervical cells. These changes in cervical tissue are called cervical intraepithelial neoplasia - CIN.
Some physicians call these changes "pre-cancerous changes", meaning these cells may develop into cancer if not treated properly.
CIN is usually caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infection.
This is a very common virus that is usually transmitted through sexual contact and may affect the cervical cells. Although the majority of women will have this virus at some point in their lives, in most cases it will be eliminated by the immune system leaving no trace of the virus. Over 90% of these infections will disappear without causing any damage.
Certain types of the virus may cause genital warts, and other types of the virus may cause CIN in the cells of the cervix. In some women, the virus can remain in the body for several years, and in other women, the CIN, if not treated, may develop into cancer.
There are 80 to 90 different types of HPV, however it appears that only types 16, 18, 31, 33 are related to the development of cervical cancer.
Risk factors for cervical cancer
Early initiation of sexual intercourse and sexual activity with multiple partners may increase the risk of contracting the virus; however women with different sexual habits and patterns may also carry the HPV virus, and are liable to develop CIN or cervical cancer.
A weak immune system, due to smoking, poor nutrition, or other infections, may also lead to the formation of CIN which may in turn develop into cancer.
Preventing Cervical Cancer
95% of cervical cancers may be prevented.
Prevention encompasses initial prevention: reducing the risk of contracting HPV which may lead to precancerous lesions and cervical cancer.
And secondary prevention: examining the surface of the cervix (Pap smear) - cervical screening to detect and treat precancerous lesions which may develop into cervical cancer.
According to the Public Health Law, a Pap smear is recommended once every 3 years for average-risk women between the ages of 35 and 54 (a women defined as being high risk should consult her physician about when to begin taking these screening exams and how often); Pap tests are performed free of charge.
The Israel Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends Pap screening at three-year intervals in women aged 25 to 60 years.
Each year, about 200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and about 80 women per year die of the disease.
Facts and figures on cervical cancer
According to Ministry of Health National Cancer Registry statistics, it emerges that the (age-standardized) incidence of cervical cancer in Israel as per 2010 was 5.0 per 100,000 women (5.6 and 2.3 per 100,000 Jewish and Arab women, respectively).
The cervical cancer incidence rates in Israel are lower than the estimated incidence rates for 2012 in most European countries* and in the United States - 7.9, Greece - 6.2, Germany- 9.8 per 100,000 women and are similar to those of Cyprus 5.2 and Finland 4.9. The average incidence rate in Europe is 13.4 per 100,000.
Cervical cancer mortality rates
According to the Central Bureau of Statistics and the Ministry of Health Center for Disease Control, the (age-standardized) mortality rate of cervical cancer in Israel for 2010 was 1.5 and 0.9 per 100,000 among Jewish and Arab women, respectively.
The respective statistics for 2011 were 1.4 among Jewish women and 1.0 among Arab women; moreover, these statistics are lower than the estimated mortality rates for 2012 in most European countries* and in the United States - 2.4, Holland 2.1, France 2.6, Russia 7.8, Britain 2.3, and Spain 2.7 per 100,000 women.
The average mortality rate in Europe is 4.9 per 100,000.
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Estimated cervical cancer incidence and mortality in Europe for 2012
Pap smear screening frequency
Pap smear screenings once every three years - the Israel National Health Interview Survey (INHIS 2 2007-2010) of the Ministry of Health, which is based on self-reports, attest to the fact that 44.7% of the general female population in Israel reported having had a Pap smear during the 3 years prior to the survey.
Age-specific incidence was higher in preventive screening recommendations by age: 55.4% among 35-44 year olds, and 60.3% among 45-54 year olds.
In a distribution by population group, the percentage of those who had reported having had a Pap smear during the three years prior to the survey was 60.1% among women aged 35-44, and 66.3% among women aged 45-54. Among Arab women, the rates were 35.3% and 21.3% respectively.
Pap smear compliance by age (in percentages)
Jewish female population
Arab female population
New research studies courtesy of the Israel Cancer Association Information Center
Does smoking increase the risk of contracting precancerous lesions and cervical cancer?
In a comprehensive European study published in the International Journal of Cancer in December 2013, investigators sought to assess the link between smoking and the risk of developing CIN 3 precancerous lesions, cervical carcinoma in situ (CIS) and invasive cervical cancer (ICC).
What is the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and physical activity on one hand and cervical cancer on the other?
Research scientists from Seoul Korea and Alabama, U.S., examined the link between mild obesity and physical activity on one hand and the risk of contracting precancerous lesions and cervical cancer on the other.