And what if it was a vaccine against prostate cancer?

A member of a Government expert panel has criticised the delay in recommending whether a cervical cancer vaccine should be provided under a National Immunisation programme. link

OK, let's look at the facts.

  • Studies suggest that up to 75% of people may contract the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, at some point during their reproductive years.

  • Ireland has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in Western Europe.

  • 180 Irish women are diagnosed with this illness every year.

  • 80 Irish women a year die from it.

  • In clinical trials, the vaccine was found to be 100% effective against the types of HPV linked to most cervical cancers. Link.

What about this is a tough call?


WorldbyStorm said...

And no doubt they're looking at 'cost implications'...etc, etc. Quite sickening.

Wednesday said...

Oh, they certainly do that. Caoimhghín put in a PQ a while back asking if it was not time to look at increasing the frequency with which smears are recommended in this country, in line with practice in many other countries and in view of the inordinately high rate of cervical cancer here. Mary Harney's reply was: "The optimal screening interval is one that provides the most favourable ratio between degree of disease control and cost of screening." Not the one that saves the most lives. Of course.

WorldbyStorm said...

That's sort of left me speechless.

Frank said...

While likewise dumbfounded, I have to take issue with the headline. The reality is that investment, attention and resources for breast and cervical cancer dwarf the effort put into fighting prostate cancer.

I'm not trying to play one off the other here. Supports for cancer treatment of any sort is disgracefully low, but the suggestion that cervical cancer screening would be better supported if it affected men is false. If it only affected men, the evidence if that it wouldn't even have what limited support it has.

There was a good Prime Time on it last week.

Wednesday said...

I saw that Prime Time, but I don't think you're comparing like with like. We're talking about the availability of a virtually failsafe vaccine. No such vaccine exists, at present, for prostate cancer.

It's also worth pointing out that the programme basically said that prostate cancer hasn't been spent on because men themselves haven't been pressurising the Government for it. But women have been campaigning for improved cervical cancer services for years.

Frank said...

I take the point on the vaccine, but there isn't even a screening process for prostate cancer, which could certainly be put in place, whereas one exists for breast and cervical.

I agree about campaigning and its importance, but that wasn't the issue I had with your post. My problem was with your suggestion that because cervical cancer affected women only, not enough was being done. My point was that far less was being done for prostate cancer.

The fact that this is at least partly a result of the campaigning done doesn't negate my point.

Wednesday said...

Our "cervical screening programme" was launched only late last year and is available only in one HSE area (the mid-west). It falls far short of what women have been campaigning for years for. The rollout of BreastCheck is also lagging far behind campaigners' demands. Women have got what we got here because we've fought for it - no other reason. If men were to put the same effort into getting prostate cancer screening I suspect they would get it a lot quicker. And if men were to go to the Government and say "look, here's a vaccine that has been proven to prevent hundreds of prostate cancer deaths a year", I suspect that the Government wouldn't take months and months to decide if it was worth the cost.

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