Progress on cervical cancer stalls in Queensland

For the first time in more than three decades, incidence rates of cervical cancer have stalled in Queensland – prompting Cancer Council to issue an urgent warning to Queensland women.

Rates of the deadly disease have consistently decreased since 1982, when records began, but have now flattened.

The data has been published by Cancer Council’s research centre for International Women’s Day, today – March 8.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was a wake-up call for women who had not been following recommended screening guidelines.

“Incidence rates for cervical cancer more than halved between 1982 and 2008, but have now plateaued,” Ms Clift said.

“We’re extremely concerned to see our progress on cervical cancer slowing down.

“It’s critical that eligible women participate in the National Cervical Screening Program.

“The screening program helps to detect cervical cancer at the pre-invasive stage and then enables the initiation of early treatment – saving lives.

“While we can’t be certain of causes of the plateau of incidence rates, we do know that only about half of all eligible women in Queensland get regular pap smears – the second lowest rate in the country.

“We cannot stress enough the importance of cervical cancer screening to detect abnormalities early and reduce deaths from the disease.

“We need further research to ensure incidence rates of cervical cancer continue to decline in Queensland.”

Queensland participation in the cervical screening program has remained stable since 2002, according to the Chief Health Officer’s latest report.

In 2014, 3691 Queensland women aged 20–69 years were diagnosed with a high grade abnormality, providing an opportunity for treatment before possible progression to cancer.

Cancer Council Queensland has welcomed Federal Government funding for a new cervical screening program to replace the two-yearly pap smear test from late 2017.

“The new cervical screening test will be more effective than a pap smear and just as safe,” Ms Clift said.

“We expect more women will take part in the new screening program, providing us with the best possible prospects for beating this dreaded disease.

“We commend the Federal Government for expanding this screening program, helping to save the lives of more Queenslanders.”

The new cervical screening test will be available for all Australian women aged 25 to 74 in late 2017.

Cancer Council Queensland urges eligible women to continue participating in the current pap smear screening program until the new test becomes available.

Around 200 Queensland women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year alone, and about 60 will die from the disease.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at or via 13 11 20.

For more information or interviews, please contact:
Katie Clift,
Executive Manager,
Media and Spokesperson,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5372
Mobile: 0409 001 171