Two new initiatives in the field of health will be launched in the fight against cancer.
Boys aged 12 to 13 in Northern Ireland will be offered a vaccine to protect them against human papillomavirus (HPV) -related cancers.
A better test for detecting cancer of the intestines is also introduced.
These are important announcements for public health as they bring Northern Ireland closer to the rest of the UK.
Beginning in September, the HPV vaccine will be offered to all Grade 9 boys at school.
It is hoped that the immunization program will help reduce the number of HPV-related cancers diagnosed and save lives.
It was also decided that the fecal immunochemistry test (FIT) would replace the fecal occult blood test (FOB) test as a primary screening test for bowel cancer in the program. Bowel Cancer Screening (BCSP) in Northern Ireland.
However, this will not start until the beginning of 2020.
Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly said health protection clearly benefits the public.
"Both decisions have been under review for some time and can now be taken after confirmation of the department's budget allocation for this year," he said.
A very high proportion of all women under the age of 25 have already seized the opportunity to be vaccinated against the HPV virus since the program was introduced in 2008 and the intention is to protect boys through similar absorption.
What is the human papillomavirus (HPV)?
- HPV is the name given to a common group of viruses; there are more than 100 types of HPV
- Many women will be infected with HPV in their lifetime without any ill effects.
- In the vast majority of cases, there will be no symptoms and the infection will go away on its own, but in some cases a persistent infection can result in cervical disease.
- Some types of HPV are high risk because they are linked to the development of certain cancers.
- Almost all cervical cancers (99.7%) are caused by high-risk HPV infection
- Many types of HPV affect the mouth, throat or genitals. They are easy to catch – you can contract HPV through sexual contact.
Source: NHS choice
This expanded program offers the opportunity to transform some HPV-related diseases and cancers based on the success of the program in girls.
The prevalence of the main types of cancers caused by HPV 16 and 18 has already been reduced by more than 80%.
Dr. Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer, said, "We can now look forward to a future where we can be even more confident about being able to reduce cervical cancer and other cancers related to the disease. HPV that affect men and women.
"This is an effective vaccine against a particularly dangerous virus and I encourage all parents to subscribe to this offer and to ensure that their boys and girls are vaccinated."
The new FIT Intestinal Screening Test will be introduced from the beginning of 2020.
Although cancer charities welcome this decision, it was hoped that it could have been introduced earlier.
- The self-test kit "M & # 39; saved the life"
- Jeremy Bowen diagnosed with bowel cancer
Evidence shows that FIT testing is becoming more accepted by patients and its increased use will save even more lives.
Every year in Northern Ireland, there are about 1,100 new cases of bowel cancer, with more than 400 deaths.
The BCSP aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment can be successful at 90%.
What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
- bleeding from your bottom and / or blood in your poop
- a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habits
- unexplained weight loss
- extreme fatigue without obvious reason
- pain or size in the belly
"The existing test for bowel cancer has proven extremely useful for detecting cancer at an early stage and so it is essential that people be invited to participate in the screening program of the intestines. in Northern Ireland from 60 to 74 years old continue to complete it, "said Dr. McBride.
The extension of the HPV vaccination program to include adolescent boys is based on the advice of the Joint Committee on Immunization and Immunization (JCVI), an independent expert group that advises the Kingdom's four health departments. -United.
In January 2016, the National Screening Committee of the United Kingdom recommended that the Bowel Cancer Screening Program (BCSP) be the quantitative test for stool immunochemistry (FEC) as a primary screening test. of the bowel cancer.