About cervical cancer in Slovakia
According to the recent epidemiological data, cervical cancer is the sixth most common cancer in Slovakia. Every year, 600 to 650 women are diagnosed with this disease, and 200 to 230 die as a result. The main cause of this situation is a low rate of preventive examination participation among women at risk, a low rate of HPV virus revaccination, as well as delayed treatment.
The Ministry of Health is the governing body of the country’s health sector, while monitoring and supervisory functions are assigned to the Health Care Surveillance Authority. The Public Health Authority is the supervisory body for public health operations. The National Oncology Institute is involved in the coordination of cancer screening programs.
The situation in oncology has become more complicated due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Based on international data, the number of cancer diagnoses in Europe dropped by up to 40% in 2020. As a result, there is a risk that Europe will see a significant increase in the number of newly diagnosed cancer patients only in the advanced late stages of the disease over the next five years. It is especially concerning for Slovakia, which is already one of the worst countries in Europe in terms of cancer mortality.
League against Cancer regularly organizes seminars for various groups of the population to increase awareness about the prevention of cervical cancer, it informs about the system of preventive care and screenings for different age groups or women at special risk. League also produces leaflets, flyers, brochures for wide free distribution that help spreading the information and knowledge.
In collaboration with the University Hospital Trnava, the Alliance No to Cancer has established a Patient Counseling Center for oncology patients, which is currently the fourth patient clinic for oncology patients in Slovakia. Former patients will offer valuable advice and information to current patients, as well as support them throughout their cancer treatment.
Since 2019 the National Oncologic Institute, the leading state cancer monitoring and methodology centre, has been publishing a series of materials for experts and the lay public about screenings, including cervical cancer. Apart from written documents, videos, podcasts, infographics and social media posts have been produced in a very user-friendly and understandable manner. League against Cancer is the main partner in this project.
In 2021, the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic has finally launched an organised cervical cancer screening programme which was unfortunately delayed from 2019 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Health insurance companies are inviting women between the ages of 23 and 64 to a preventive gynaecological exam, with the hope that in a couple of years the exam rate will increase from the current approximately 35% to at least 70%.
With the implementation of PRESCRIP-TEC project we aim to achieve the following goals:
Reaching over 1.000.000 people through targeted advertising campaigns in digital media.
Sensitising over 70.000 men and women about cervical cancer prevention and screening
Interacting with over 15.000 women eligible for screening (especially from vulnerable groups, like minority groups, HIV-positive women, low health-literate women).
Services provided by the consortium members
The consortium in Slovakia consists of three leading partners – Trnava University, Healthy Regions and Ligue against Cancer.
Trnava University is responsible for the overall project coordination in Slovakia, along with scientific coordination, sample management and analysis. Healthy regions are primarily in charge of community-related work, Ligue against Cancer oversees integration with existing national programs and strategies, and works towards increasing awareness about the cancer burden and cancer risk, informing and educating the wide public about the importance of prevention, early detection and early treatment.
Slovak consortium partners are also receiving assistance and expertise from the Ministry of Health of the Slovak Republic. Together they are working mainly in two impact areas:
Roma population – Pre-selected around 32 villages as potential target areas, in three self-governed regions of Slovakia (Banskobystrický, Košický a Prešovský kraj).
Factory setting – In the process of selecting
Impact areas where we are working
|Epidemiology Summary||Country data|
|Female population aged 20-29 (million)||0.316|
|Female population aged 30-59 (million)||1.19|
|HPV prevalence (%)||9.7% (regional estimate)|
|Cervical cancer incidence rate (crude, per 100 000)||24.9|
|Cervical cancer incidence rate (age-standardized, per 100 000)||16.6|
|Cervical cancer mortality (crude, per 100 000)||10.1|
|Cervical cancer mortality (age- standardized, per 100 000)||5.3|
|Available/recommended method of screening||Conventional cytology (Pap smear)|
|Type of screening||Opportunistic|
|Is there a national strategy/program dedicated to cancer?||Yes – National Oncology Program|
|Is there a national strategy/program dedicated to cervical cancer?||No – provisions included in other documents|
|Target age group in the project (years)||19 – 64|
Some of our activities in Slovakia
Slovakia is committed to improving the organization and delivery of health services in the control of oncological diseases. The government has just adopted a new National Oncology Plan 2021–2025 with a set of Action Plans dedicated to the most important interventions starting from primary prevention to palliative and community care. The aim of the new screening program scheme in the National Oncology Plan is to ensure that 90% of the target population is actively invited to screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. The Plan lists PRESCRIP-TEC – cervical cancer screening project in a marginalized population as Activity number 13 in Action Plan No. 2. – Screening.
News from Slovakia
On 17th November 2021 we are celebrating the Cervical Cancer Elimination movement. Know what PRESCRIP-TEC is doing.
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Jaap Koot, coordinator of PRESCRIP-TEC, talked about cervical cancer at the International Student Congress of (bio)Medical Sciences (ISCOMS)
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