Free cervical cancer testing

Women doctor and patient

Doctor and patient

After a pilot study in selected health centres in the coming months, the Ministry of Health is launching a campaign for the early detection of cervical cancer.

The target population for this pilot programme is women between 35 and 65 years of age. If successful, it will be expanded to the general population.

Dramatic reduction in cervical cancer rates

The aim is to detect premalignant lesions and cervical cancer in its early stages. This type of programme has proven very effective, and in some countries has reduced the incidence and mortality by 70-80 per cent.

The screening or early detection test involves taking and analysing a sample of the cells from the lining of the cervix. The type of analysis and frequency of testing varies according to age group.

The new Cervical Cancer Early Detection Programme (PDPCCU) is aimed at some 360,000 women living in the Balearic Islands, who will be invited to take two types of tests depending on their age group.

Cytology tests and self-sampling

In the first group, 25- to 34-year-old women will have a cytology test carried out by medical personnel every three years. If the result is very low-risk, this test will be repeated every three years.

Women between the ages of 35 and 64 will self-sample using a thin tampon-like device. If the result is very low-risk, the test will be repeated every five years.

Around 60 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the Balearic Islands annually. Cervical cancer is the result of previous infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is sexually transmitted. However, the vast majority of infections are not persistent and do not cause any problems.

Smoking has been shown to be a significant risk factor because it lowers immune defences against the virus.

The disease can take decades to develop after infection, so most diagnoses are in women between the ages of 35 and 50. Early detection before symptoms begin is essential to minimise the evolution of cervical cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) mainly affects the skin and mucous membranes. Infection is more likely for people who became sexually active at an early age, with different partners, and if their partner had sex with multiple people.

HPV vaccination, screening, and treatment of precancerous lesions are key to preventing cervical cancer.

The HPV vaccination recommendations of the General Directorate of Public Health are two separate doses of the vaccine for 12-year-old boys and girls and for people with certain conditions, such as WHIM syndrome (PID), HIV infection or immunosuppression.

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Annie christmas in the Bay of Palma
Written by

Annette Christmas

Annie Christmas loves language and communication. A long-time resident of Mallorca, she enjoys an outdoor life of cycling, horse riding and mountain walking, as well as the wealth of concerts and cultural events on the island. She also plays fiddle in a traditional Mallorcan dance troupe.