Frequent screenings for cervical cancer can lead to early detection, prevent cancer from developing and save lives. Despite the importance, the number of those getting tested for cervical cancer in Australia has drastically declined over the past year.

The Covid-19 pandemic has been blamed for the recent decline in cervical cancer screenings, with only 40,662 screenings conducted across Australia in November 2020 compared to 100,097 in November 2019. Living under lockdown with plenty of other worries and concerns in life, many women have neglected this crucial component of their healthcare. As the tides begin to turn on the virus and restrictions are lifted, now is the time to prioritise your cervical cancer screening.

Pink cancer ribbon on white background.

How often should I get tested for cervical cancer?

The Cancer Council of Australia recommends that all women aged between 25 and 74, should be frequently tested for cervical cancer, regardless of whether you have been vaccinated against HPV. If you fall within this age range, have a cervix and have ever been sexually active, you should be screened for cervical cancer every five years, or two years after your last PAP smear. Cervical cancer usually does not exhibit any symptoms and so the only way to identify it is by getting tested.

Is a cervical screening the same as a PAP smear?

In 2017, Australia renewed and updated its National Cervical Screening Programme, replacing the PAP smear with the cervical cancer screening test. PAP smears and cervical cancer screenings are carried out in the same way using a swab to collect cell samples from your cervix.

While PAP smears look for any abnormal cervical cells, cervical cancer tests look specifically for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is the cause of 99% of all cervical cancer cases. If you have not been tested since the updated programme was introduced on 1 December 2017, you are overdue and should get tested as soon as you can.

Pink calendar with date ticked.

Speak to us in confidence

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. When identified early, it can usually be treated, saving lives. Better2Know can schedule a confidential HPV test at a clinic near you.

For more information, do not hesitate to call our highly trained sexual health advisors. Our team are available by phone 24/7 to answer any questions you may have. Additionally, you can send us an anonymous message via our web-chat.

Sources

[1] ABC News: Cervical cancer testing rates are down by more than half and this terminal patient is pushing for that to change

[2] Cancer Council: A guide to: Cervical cancer screening

[3] ACOG.ORG: Cervical Cancer Screening

[4] HEALTH.GOV.AU: About the National Cervical Screening Program

[5] HEALTHDIRECT.GOV.AU: Cervical screening test




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