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Press Release

Screening programme to help prevent cervical cancer

March 8, 2004

The Department of Health has developed a screening programme to reduce the incidence and mortality rate of cervical cancer - the fifth most common cancer and the eighth leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Hong Kong.

Speaking at the launch of the Cervical Screening Programme today (March 8), the Director of Health, Dr P Y Lam, said cervical cancer could be prevented by regular cervical smears to detect early cell changes and the application of appropriate medical treatment.

Noting that there were 444 new cases and 128 deaths due to cervical cancer in 2000, Dr Lam said he hoped that, following the launch of the programme, the overall coverage of cervical screening in Hong Kong will increase and fewer women will develop and die from cervical cancer.

The planning, implementation and evaluation of the programme were overseen by the Cervical Screening Task Force, which was set up by the department.

The task force comprises representatives from the Hong Kong Academy of Medicine, academics from local universities, service providers from the public and private sectors, non-governmental organisations and women groups.

"Women aged 25 to 64, who have ever had sex, will be the target group for the programme. We will send them personalised letters to encourage them to join the programme. Other women may be screened according to professional judgement," Dr Lam said.

Cervical screening services are available from private practitioners, the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong, the department's Maternal and Child Health Centres and women's centres run by other organisations.

Women in the target group are encouraged to receive cervical smears every three years following negative smears for two consecutive years.

The task force has drawn up quality management guidelines for all stages of the screening process to ensure that women get high quality services.

"At the moment, the private sector is a major provider of cervical screening services in Hong Kong. Collaboration between private and public sectors is crucial to the success of the programme," Dr Lam said.

"One of the key features of the programme is the establishment of a central registry to support multiple functions, such as enrolment of the target population, maintaining information on screening history and results, tracking utilisation and follow up, linking records across different providers and facilitating research and evaluation of the programme.

"Women and service providers are encouraged to register with the programme," he added.

To increase public awareness about the importance of cervical screening, a publicity campaign is being organised by the task force and other concerned parties. The public can visit the website,, or call the department's education hotline 2833 0111 for more information.

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