Only about half of all eligible women in Queensland get regular pap smears – the second lowest rate in the country, new national figures show.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare issued the latest participation rates for the National Cervical Screening Program (2014/2015) today.
The Queensland rate of participation for 2014/15 was just 54.5 per cent, only slightly higher than the lowest participation rate in the country, in the Northern Territory, at 54.4 per cent.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was vital for all eligible women to undergo pap smears, even if they had completed the full course of HPV vaccinations.
“Regular pap smears currently remain the best protection against cervical cancer,” Ms Clift said.
“It’s crucial that all eligible Queensland women prioritise regular pap smears and get screened every two years.
“Through population screening at regular intervals, the pap smear test has the potential to reduce up to 90 per cent of cervical cancer cases in Australia.
“Nationally, participation in the Cervical Screening Program is dropping, from an average rate of about 57 per cent in 2013/2014, to around 56 per cent in 2014/2015.
“More women having regular pap smears means that more of the serious diseases that can lead to cervical cancer can be found and treated.
“Participation leads to fewer cases of cervical cancer, and fewer women dying from this disease.”
Cancer Council Queensland has welcomed Federal Government funding for a new cervical screening program to replace the two-yearly pap smear test from 2017.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said the new HPV test would be more effective than a pap smear and just as safe.
“The new test will detect HPV before abnormal cell changes occur, helping to prevent cases of cervical cancer and increase survival rates,” Ms Clift said.
“We hope this change in the screening program will encourage more eligible women to take the test, giving themselves the best possible chance of detecting cancer early.
“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 from May 2017.
Cancer Council Queensland is urging eligible women to continue participating in the current pap smear screening program until the new test becomes available.
Around 190 women in Queensland are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and about 50 die from the disease.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or 13 11 20.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Media and Spokesperson,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5372
Mobile: 0409 001 171