The Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation says more Australian women are still dying from cervical cancer because they’re not having regular pap tests.
Joe Tooma, chief executive at the ACCF says vaccinations against cervical cancer can help but women also need the other way to prevent the disease. “We know how to prevent probably 98 or 99 per cent of cervical cancer by vaccinating people, boys and girls, against the human papillomavirus (HPV). The other way to prevent the cancer is to get a pap test,” he said.
Over 20,000 women in Australia each year are diagnosed with high-grade abnormalities after having a pap test, while around 800 to 1000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in Australia.
In 2013, there were 224 deaths from cervical cancer. “It’s because those cancers were found too late. That’s why we really need to find those women who aren’t getting regular pap tests so we can save their lives,” Mr Tooma said.
Oftentimes, there are no symptoms, but if abnormalities aren’t discovered soon enough, they can develop into cancer.
Screening is recommended every two years for sexually active women aged 18-70 to detect any changes in the cells on the cervix.
Beginning next year, the two-yearly pap test will be changed to a five-yearly HPV test — a measure that aims to prevent an additional 140 cervical cancer cases every year.