Following the interview of Agnès Buzyn, president of the National Cancer Institute (INCa), on the solutions to prevent and detect cervical cancer ...
And when is it cervical cancer, what is the prevention policy?
Agnès Buzyn: There is a smear screening done at a doctor's office. It is recommended to submit to it every three years. It is still an individual screening, except in thirteen pilot departments where an organized screening program has been set up on an experimental basis. The interest is to evaluate the benefits and risks of this program to eventually make a recommendation for screening at the national level. In these departments, it is only a matter of inviting women who have not smeared in the last three years.
Cervical cancer represents fortunately few cases in France, compared to breast cancer. The benefit of routine screening when the incidence is low and very few cases are expected to be detected is therefore not assured.
There is also a vaccine available to fight against cervical cancer ...
Agnès Buzyn: There is indeed a vaccine against papillomavirus (HPV) recommended to girls from the age of 14 years and before the start of sexual activity or, at most, in the year that follows. But this remains a recommendation, vaccination is not mandatory.
Cervical cancer is a cancer that can be eradicated to a great extent, starting with vaccinating young women. However, there is in France a great mistrust of vaccination campaigns ... while there are countries (Australia and Canada, for example) where not only vaccination is mandatory, but we will even vaccinate boys, because they can be carriers of the oncogenic virus.
What is INCa's position with regard to prostate cancer, unfortunately very common. What about the screening that has been debated lately?
Agnès Buzyn: The position of the INCa, like that of the other health agencies, is very clear: the systematic screening by blood assay of PSA does not present any proven benefits. PSA is not specific for prostate cancer and not necessarily sensitive: one can have a normal PSA dosage and a cancer. This is of course an important patient monitoring tool, when there is an individual risk. This examination therefore remains to be considered on a case-by-case basis with his doctor. Moreover, even the countries that had set up and used it for systematic screening in men over 50 years, slowly retrace their steps.