Let's talk about infections... and cancer prevention

by Gary Trenaman 16 Jul 2020

Our immune systems are fantastic at clearing infections but occasionally one can damage cellular DNA or cause inflammation that can lead to cancer. HPV and HBV are the most common and the best prevention is through vaccination, safe sex and avoiding blood exposure.

Here’s what we know:

  1. Human papillomavirus (HPV) are a group of sexually transmitted viruses affecting 80% of people at some point in their lives. Many are harmless but a few HPV can cause cancer, leading to 235,000 cancer deaths each year worldwide. HPV causes 100% of cervical cancer cases and 90% of anal cancer cases.
  2. About 250 women in Australia die each year from cervical cancer. This number would be much higher without screening.
  3. Hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV and HCV) are infections of the liver, transmitted via contact with blood or body fluids. HBV is the second most common carcinogen after tobacco worldwide, leading to 340,000 cancer deaths each year.

Remember:

  • Vaccination has the potential to prevent most cervical and other cancers, including from HPV and HBV and most cases of genital warts. Speak to your GP about this.
  • Practising safe sex can help prevent most sexually transmitted infections.
  • Avoiding blood exposure through safe injection and blood transfusion practices is highly recommended. Also take care with tattooing and piercing.
  • Women should start cervical screening from age 25 or 2 years from last pap test, then each 5 years if result is negative. Get screened even if you’re pregnant and/or you’ve had the HPV vaccine.

 

Read more about Can Too’s investment in gynaecological cancer research.