93% of cervical cancer cases are preventable by regular screening, HPV vaccination

National Reference Laboratory, NRL, a Mubadala Investment Company, is encouraging all females to follow the UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention, MOHAP, and the Department of Health Abu Dhabi, 'Guidelines for Cervical Cancer Screening' which recommend that all females aged 25 to 65 years undergo a Papanicolaou test, also known as Pap smear test, every three to five years; and, all females aged 15 to 26 years receive the HPV vaccination.

Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papillomavirus, HPV, and typically develops very slowly. 93 percent of cases can be prevented if detected early through a Pap smear test, which is performed during a general gynecological examination. Yet, cervical cancer remains the second leading cancer for females in the UAE because far too many cases are detected in the later stages of the disease.

There have been a number of initiatives to increase the awareness, and the access, of women to Pap smear testing. For example, under the MOHAP’s National Cervical Cancer Screening programme, all Emirati women from Dubai and the northern emirates are invited to visit their local MOHAP primary health centre to receive a complimentary Pap smear test. The goal is to improve early cervical cancer detection; and thus far, the initiative has demonstrated benefit with 25 percent more women undergoing testing in 2017 compared to the previous year.

"Increasing awareness of the importance of early detection and its role in decreasing the mortality and morbidity of cervical cancer within the female population of the UAE is an important focus for us. The UAE health authorities have invested resources across the network of public and private healthcare facilities to provide easy access to Pap smear testing for both national and expatriate women. Though we have seen improvements, more work needs to be done to encourage a greater volume of women to participate in regular gynecological checkups. This will require an ongoing collaborative effort from all stakeholders including Government, primary healthcare providers, specialists and laboratories," said Dr. Suhaila Alameeri, Consultant Anatomic Pathologist at NRL, and member of the Abu Dhabi Health Authority Cervical Cancer Screening Technical Taskforce.

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