The Pathways–Cervix and HPV Group has made a significant contribution to both national and international policy development for cervical cancer control. Cervical cancer causes around 270,000 deaths in women worldwide each year. Evidence produced by the Pathways-Cervix and HPV team is contributing to a plan to eliminate cervical cancer as a major public health issue, in Australia and globally. As well as potentially saving millions of lives long-term, the cervical cancer “elimination” agenda is creating a template for how multiple evidence-based interventions can combine to form a roadmap for a cancer-free future. The group co-leads the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Cervical Cancer Control (C4). The team’s current areas of focus include:
Optimising cervical screening
Co-led with the Victorian Cytology Society (VCS), Compass is a randomized controlled trial comparing 2.5-yearly cytology-based cervical screening (pap test) with 5-yearly primary HPV screening in Australian women aged 25-69. The aim of the study is to look at how cervical screening can be most effective in women who have been vaccinated against HPV and those who haven’t. A sub-study, Compass-Plus, is measuring the impact of primary HPV screening on psychological well-being such as anxiety and distress in women.
Cervical cancerscreening in Australia
In addition to the Compass Trial, the group is assessing other data from the renewed National Cervical Cancer Screening Program in Australia, producing world-first data evaluating primary HPV screening in a national population with widespread HPV vaccination coverage. The group is also examining whether self-collection can increase participation rates for cervical screening.
Supporting global efforts to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem
The Pathways–Cervix and HPV Group is working with international research organisations, including the International Agency for Research on Cancer, to provide crucial evidence to support cervical cancer control strategies around the world.
Analysing the benefits of the HPV vaccine on obstetric outcomes
The impact of the HPV vaccination program on adverse obstetric outcomes and juvenile onset recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (JORRP) is being investigated in Australia and globally, with a focus on lower middle-income countries.
Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of cervical cancer interventions on HPV and HIV rates
Many regions with a high burden of HIV also have a high prevalence of HPV infection – such as Africa. Mathematical models are being used to evaluate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions targeted at reducing the burden of both infections in a range of settings.
“Cervical cancer causes over 300,000 deaths worldwide each year, yet our evidence shows it could be eliminated as a public health issue by the turn of the century.”