Clinic joins cervical screening trial

WOMEN all over the globe will soon benefit from a world-first clinical trial thanks to the women of Gannawarra and local medical practice Kerang Medical Clinic. 

The practice is joining the Compass Trial, which is finding the most effective strategies for optimising cervical screening in HPV vaccinated women.

Ochre Medical Clinic at Cohuna has been involved in the trial for the past four years.

The trial is the largest clinical trial ever to be conducted in Australia, aiming to recruit 82,303 women. Results from the first phase of the trial supported major changes to the National Cervical Screening Program in 2017. 

Many Gannawarra women are already supporting the trial and now, the VCS Foundation is calling on even more local women to participate. VCS needs 8000 more Australian women aged 25-38 years to participate in the trial to ensure that we understand the best way to refine HPV testing especially in women who have been offered HPV vaccination. The trial is being led by the VCS Foundation and Cancer Council New South Wales. VCS Foundation is the only organisation worldwide to have had both a cervical screening registry and an HPV vaccination registry. 

VCS Foundation executive director and co-principal investigator, Associate Professor Marion Saville says Phase 2 of the trial is now crucial to influence evidence-based practice here and around the world. 

"For the scientific evidence generated to be strong and robust we need a significant number of participants, in this case 82,303 Australian women," she said. 

Participating general practitioner, Dr Anita Muñoz of Midtown Medical Clinic in Melbourne says she's honoured to contribute to the data that will ultimately improve screening processes here and around the world. 

"This trial is a powerful example of women helping other women," she said. 

"If we can confirm the best way of screening using the HPV test, the Compass Trial will completely change the direction of how we screen and prevent cervical cancer globally." 

"The Compass Trial is a remarkable Australian medical milestone and I'd encourage all eligible women and practitioners to become a part of scientific history." 

Associate Professor Saville said that nearly all cervical cancers are caused by persistent infection with certain types of HPV (Human Papillomavirus). 

"HPV testing is a better way to find lesions that otherwise may become cancers but we are also using the trial to identify the best way to refine the testing to avoid sending too many healthy women for further tests (false positive tests)" she said. 

"In the context of recent media on Australia's future elimination of cervical cancer, understanding how we can further improve screening in women, particularly those who have been vaccinated against HPV, is an important step towards eliminating this disease." 

Compass is recruiting 8000 women in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales aged 25 to 38 years. To join the trial, which is currently available at more than 570 practices, interested women are encouraged to visit compasstrial.org.au or to call the Compass hotline on 1800 611 635 to find their nearest participating practice and make an appointment to sign up.

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