12 November 2018
This National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week (12–18 November), Cancer Council SA is urging South Australian women to take advantage of the new Cervical Screening Test, which—together with the Human Papilloma (HPV) vaccination—is set to eliminate the disease as a public health issue by 2035.
New research, released by Cancer Council NSW last month, showed that if vaccination and screening coverage are maintained at their current rates, cervical cancer is likely to be eliminated as a public health issue within 20 years.
Cancer Council SA General Manager Services, Research and Public Policy Alana Sparrow said this new research shows just how important screening is to the future health of our population.
“Early detection not only improves health outcomes, it reduces overall costs to the health system and most importantly, saves lives,” she said.
“It’s vital that women continue to participate in the National Cervical Screening Program and that girls and boys are vaccinated against HPV through the national HPV immunisation program.”
“Under the new screening program, women should have their first screening test at age 25 and then every five years, if everything comes back ok .”
“Women aged 25 and over who have previously had the Pap test should have their next Cervical Screening Test two years after their last Pap test, after which point they can move to five-yearly screening.”
Golden Grove mother of two Sam Smithson was diagnosed with cervical cancer earlier this year and given only 12 months to live. This National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, she is sharing her story to encourage other women to get screened.
Sam was diagnosed with cervical cancer following a doctor’s appointment to get her Mirena removed—when they went to take it out, they found it was covered in a tumour. Another Pap smear and biopsy confirmed the tumour was cancerous.
“When the doctors told me the room just went dark. I went into the Royal Adelaide Hospital and essentially never came out, I started treatment almost immediately. My first thought was—I’m not going to see my boys grow up.”
Despite her diagnosis, Sam is taking each day as it comes and is focussing on being there for her two young children, Jye (5) and Levi (10).
“Even though I wish the future predictions were a reality for me, it still brings a tear to my eye to think that in 20 years’ time, women won’t have to go through what I am going through today.”
“I am unbelievably proud that Australia is leading the way in cervical cancer screening and vaccination, but in order to eliminate the disease, we can’t get complacent. My hope is that through speaking out, I can encourage women to get screened and take advantage of this fantastic new research.”
To find out more about the Cervical Screening Test visit and what it means for you visit: www.cancer.org.au/cervicalscreening
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Notes to Editor:
Cervical Cancer Screening
- Since the introduction of the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) in 1991, the incidence and mortality from cervical cancer has halved in Australia.
- Cancer Council research shows that through a combination of the new Cervical Screening Test and the HPV vaccination, cervical cancer is likely to be eliminated as a public health issue within 20 years.
- Women are due for their first Cervical Screening Test at age 25. Women aged 25 and over are due for their first Cervical Screening Test two years from their last Pap test.