Updated cancer vaccine could make a ‘significant’ difference

A Tasmanian family hope an updated vaccine will prevent other families from experiencing the trauma of cancer.

It’s a hardship they know intimately.

When Natalia Rodriguez was diagnosed with cervical cancer in September 2015, she couldn’t believe it.

She had just turned 37 in September, she had two young teenagers and was active in the arts and environmental scenes in Launceston.

Her mother Stella Rodriguez estimated up to $15,000 had been spent on her daughter’s treatments.

“The cancer diagnosis and treatment have changed life forever as we knew it,” Mrs Rodriguez said.

“We’ve all had to adjust to a new “normal” where everything is driven by the need to focus almost entirely on Natalia and the treatment requirements and everything else revolves around that.”

After major surgery in August, her daughter’s doctors explained chemotherapy and other conventional treatments were no longer beneficial so she created a gofundme page to help pay for supportive treatments, Mrs Rodriguez said.

“It would give me peace of mind to know that Natalia is able to do everything possible to support her immune system in fighting the cancer now that all other treatments have stopped.”

She said she hoped more people recognise the importance of prevention, and the updated vaccine could prevent other families from experiencing cancer.

The Gardasil vaccine offers protection for recipients against nearly all cervical cancers, nine strains of Human Papillomavirus instead of the previous vaccine’s four, and some other cancers.

Cancer Council Tasmania chief executive officer Penny Egan said the benefits of the vaccine could be “significant”.

Tasmania has an incidence rate of 7.5 new cases diagnosed per 100,000 women compared to the Australian average of 7.1 new cases per 100,000 women for the age standardised rate, Ms Egan said.

While research savings preventative treatments can make, Ms Egan said it cost $2000 for individuals to be participate in the national bowel screening campaign.

Treating advanced bowel cancer cost the health system approximately $100,000, she said.

It was not the same research area, but it showed prevention could have “considerable savings”, Ms Egan said.

“Know your body, know your risks.”