Diagnose! - and Prevent Cervical Cancer

Date

19 Jan 2009

Sections

Health & Consumers

Press release

EDMA, the European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association welcomes the Cervical Cancer Prevention Week of 18-24 January 2009, and supports the fight against cervical cancer, because with about 60.000 new cases and 30.000 deaths per year, it is the second most common cancer in women aged under-50 in Europe.

The primary objectives of the Prevention Week is to raise awareness of cervical cancer and how it can be prevented among: women across Europe so they know what they need to do to avoid this disease and access the services where they are available; and among the politicians and public health officials of Europe so they understand the benefits of prevention programmes and prioritise their implementation where they are not available

Primary cause of cervical cancer is a persisting infection by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV infection is very common in sexually active men and women. It is usually transient and results only in mild cytological abnormalities. About 80 % of women between 19 and 30 years clear this infection within months or years, but in some cases persistent infection of high risk HPV can lead to the development of cervical cancer.

Progression to cancer is a slow process of over ten years, which offers the chance to detect cervical cancer in an early and therefore curable state. Early diagnosis, proper disease management and following surgical treatment result in nearly 100 % success.

Despite all these possibilities, prevention of cervical cancer remains a big challenge for the national health care systems in Europe. The Member States must establish efficient programmes for screening and early detection of cervical cancer. At present, there are neither sufficient screening programmes in all EU countries, nor are there common standards.

The need for additional efforts for detection of cervical cancer and other common types of cancer also is emphasized in the European Commission’s most recent report on cancer screening. It shows that although progress has been made, the EU as a whole is only “half way” to meeting a sufficient number of required screening tests for efficient prevention. Hence the report concludes: “Additional efforts to improve and maintain high quality screening programmes to more efficiently combat cancer should therefore be made at Member States as well as EU level.”

Relevant diagnostic tools for prevention and diagnosis of cervical cancer are already available:
-    The traditional PAP smear and its variant, the Liquid Based Cytology for the detection of cervical abnormalities.
-    The HPV DNA and E6/E7 mRNA-testing, which together with cytology tests increases the sensitivity and/or specificity of the cytology exam improving management and follow-up of high risk women

Vaccination against HPV of young women is now available and also consists in a new powerful weapon against cervical cancer.  It has to be established in European countries in combination with efficient screening programs, to reduce the risk of HPV infections and related cancers. Vaccination scheme can only be implemented in combination to screening programs due to the facts that: the vaccines available at present are only directed against the most common high risk genotypes of HPV, many women have already missed the effective time window for vaccination, and the effectiveness of vaccination must be followed up by testing of respective genotypes. However, the status of implementation and the standards of the vaccination programs vary largely within Europe and have to be improved.

About EDMA
EDMA, the European Diagnostic Manufacturers Association represents National Associations and major companies engaged in the research, development, manufacture or distribution of In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) medical devices in Europe. Through its affiliated National Associations, EDMA represents in total more than 500 companies (or over 700 legal entities) across Europe. The mission of EDMA is to raise awareness of the importance, usefulness and added-value that diagnostic information can provide to healthcare. For this purpose, EDMA cooperates with European institutions, patients groups, trade associations, health professionals and academia to support an appropriate regulatory system, to work towards a realistic economic environment for healthcare in Europe and to be an effective voice in globalisation.

For more information, please visit EDMA website or contact:
Karoliina Keränen, EDMA Communications Assistant (Tel. +32 2 777 02 78)