Ahead of Cervical Cancer Awareness Week starting January 19, the ICA along with the Ministry of Health published the latest statistics in cervical cancer in Israel, referring to 2016.
According to statistics, 232 Israeli women were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer in 2016: 187 Jewish women (81%); 22 Arab women (9%) and 23 "other" women (10)%.
It was further found that there has been an increase in the age-standardized incidence of cervical cancer (per 100,000) of precancerous lesions (stage 3), a partially reversible stage detectible through a screening test such as a PAP smear sample of the cervical cells: 20.5 in Jewish women, 4.4 in Arab women, and 37.5 in “other” women in 2016, versus 10.0 in Jewish women, 2.2 in Arab women and 17.7 in “other” women in 1996. Note that the incidence of precancerous lesions is similar to that around the world, yet few undergo changes and become malignant.
According to Miri Ziv, Vice Chairman of the Israel Cancer Association: “Though this type of cancer is not prevalent in Israel and its incidence is low, it is potentially lethal, and in come cases, may even spread without early symptoms. The most effective measures against cervical cancer are first and foremost, administering the HPV vaccination to targeted populations, alongside a routine PAP test that can identify changes and enable early detection and prevention on time, avoiding the development of tumors, or an HPV screening test, or co-testing."
Precancerous changes and early tumors in the cervix are not always accompanies by symptoms. Early detection tests for changes in the cervix enable morbidity prevention by detecting early changes that may develop into malignant tumors if not treated on time.
The 2019 National Healthcare Basket includes a free PAP test for any woman ages 30-54 once every 3 years, this, after the public committee for the expansion of the 2019 National Healthcare Basket recommended the expansion of the screening tests so that they are offered from the age of 30. The test is available at any age for women who have a medical indication requiring it.
The expanded healthcare basket in every healthcare fund, as well as complimentary coverages, allow for a PAP test regardless of the woman’s age, with a deductible of 31 – 101 NIS, for women who are not in the eligible age range according to the healthcare basket.
Click here for details regarding the coverage of healthcare funds.
There is a ‘conspiracy of silence’ around the topic of sex and contraction of cervical cancer, caused by shame and embarrassment to open up about two complex issues: sex and cancer.
Many questions are raised by women coping with cervical cancer and their partners, and the answers sometimes lead the patients and their partners to make harsh, erroneous decisions, difficulties in their sex life, couple or family conflicts and even separation.
According to ICA Sex Therapist Lena Kurtz Almog: “It is important to know that the chances of contracting HPV increase along with the number of partners and when engaging in unsafe sex. Having one partner can be enough in order to contract the virus. Sometimes contraction occurs during adolescence and not only in adulthood or within a marriage. This notion can save a lot of frustration and guilt around the issue of cervical cancer. Today, the fight against the disease is carried out on two levels: The first one is reducing the risk of contraction by administering vaccinations in schools and teaching sex education from elementary school, and the second is early detection of HPV by taking the PAP test and following up on it. Note that of the healthcare funds add the HPV test to the PAP test.
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A study published recently found that HPV screening for cervical cancer may help prevent rectal cancer in women.
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