Self-collection kits could help Australia eliminate cervical cancer | Newcastle Herald

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Canteen board member Sean Dondas was only 16 when his mother Selina died of cervical cancer. When their father refused to take them in, he and his two younger brothers were left in foster care. The now 28-year-old has since achieved a lot – a master’s degree in national security; a demanding job at the APS; a role on the board of Canteen; satisfying, lifelong friendships. But there is still a void. “When I graduated from high school, my mom wasn’t there. When I went to college, my mom wasn’t there. When I graduated, I wasn’t allowed to share that,” Mr. Dondas said. “When I got my first real full-time job here in public service in Canberra, it was one of the best days of my life, but bittersweet knowing Mom wasn’t there.”[She wouldn’t] know that all the sacrifices she made were worth it.” Just 12 years after Selina died, the Department of Health has stated that Australia is on track to become the first country in the world to eradicate cervical cancer. The commission recently recommended the government to make self-collection universally available. This is a method of testing where people test themselves with a stick, such as with a Covid test. According to the Royal Australia College of General Practitioners, 80 percent of people who develop cervical cancer in Australia get insufficient or never Dondas’ mother had a relapse when he was only 14, leading to years of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hospice care. “She was really hard on all of us that we had to get up and be prepared for a time that she would no longer be there. You know the end is coming, but you don’t know exactly when,” he said. “That was probably the hardest part, knowing it was coming.” It was somewhere where I didn’t have to pretend or hide how I I felt about my mother’s cancer diagnosis,” he said. IN OTHER NEWS: A recent study by researchers at the University of Melbourne suggested that self-collection could increase detection rates in people who are currently available for women over 30 who are at least two years late for their cervical exam. Although Pap smears are no longer used, most women are tested for HPV through a cervical exam, in which a doctor opens their vagina with a speculum. Many people feel uncomfortable with the procedure – these could be people from culturally diverse backgrounds, queer people, people with disabilities or who have experienced sexual violence. Research from the University of Melbourne Researcher Claire Zammit said testing with self-collected samples can be as accurate as cervical cancer screening. “At least it’s a game changer, as if it could be the way we actually achieve our screening goals,” she said. Ms Zammit said that when detected early, cervical cancer was “extremely treatable”. “If it’s caught early in a country like Australia, you wouldn’t die from it. It’s definitely a preventable cancer,” she said.

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Sean Dondas and his brothers were left in foster care when his mother Selina died of cervical cancer. Photos: Elesa Kurtz, delivered

Canteen board member Sean Dondas was only 16 when his mother Selina died of cervical cancer.

When their father refused to take them in, he and his two younger brothers were left in foster care.

The now 28-year-old has since achieved a lot – a master’s degree in national security; a demanding job at the APS; a role on the board of Canteen; satisfying, lifelong friendships.

But there is still a void.

“When I graduated from high school, my mom wasn’t there. When I went to college, my mom wasn’t there. When I graduated, I wasn’t allowed to share that,” Mr. Dondas said.

“When I got my first real full-time job here in public service in Canberra, it was one of the best days of my life, but bittersweet knowing Mom wasn’t there.

“[She wouldn’t] know that all the sacrifices she had made were worth it.”

Just 12 years after Selina died, the Department of Health has stated that Australia is on track to become the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer.

The Medical Services Advisory Committee recently recommended that the government make self-collection generally available.

This is a test method in which people test themselves with a stick, such as with a Covid test.

According to the Royal Australia College of General Practitioners, 80 percent of people who develop cervical cancer in Australia are under-screened or never screened.

Dondas’ mother had a relapse when he was only 14, leading to years of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hospice care.

“She was really hard on all of us that we had to get up and be prepared for a time when she wouldn’t be there. You know the end is coming, but you don’t know exactly when,” he said.

“That was probably the hardest part, knowing it was coming.”

He said the support of Canteen, a children’s charity, helped him through.

“It was somewhere where I didn’t have to pretend or hide how I felt about my mother’s cancer diagnosis,” he said.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Melbourne suggested that self-collection could increase the detection rate in people who have avoided testing altogether.

It is currently available to women over the age of 30 who are at least two years late for their cervical exam.

Although Pap smears are no longer used, most women are tested for HPV through a cervical screening, in which a doctor opens their vagina with a speculum.

Many people do not feel comfortable with the procedure – these could be people from culturally diverse backgrounds, queers, people with disabilities or who have experienced sexual violence.

Claire Zammit, a researcher at the University of Melbourne, said testing with self-collected samples could be as accurate as cervical cancer screening.

“At least it’s a game changer, as if it could be the way we actually achieve our screening goals,” she said.

Ms Zammit said that when detected early, cervical cancer was “extremely treatable”.

“If it’s caught early in a country like Australia, you wouldn’t die from it. It’s definitely a preventable cancer,” she said.

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