National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week: 11-17 November 2019
As part of National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, we're urging women in WA to make an appointment for a Cervical Screening Test if they are due or overdue.
Our Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger said, "We need to encourage all women to have a Cervical Screening Test every five years as four out of five women who develop cervical cancer have either never screened or do not screen regularly."
All women aged between 25 and 74 years who have ever been sexually active need to have regular Cervical Screening Tests as part of their ongoing health and wellbeing checks.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's latest report, "Analysis of cervical cancer and abnormality outcomes in an era of cervical screening and HPV vaccination in Australia" explores trends in cervical screening behaviour and outcomes from screening and vaccination over a ten-year period.
The report shows that cervical screening participation is at least 10 per cent lower in young women aged 25 - 29 who are unvaccinated, compared to young women of the same age who received the HPV vaccine.
Screening participation rates in fully vaccinated young women is 59 per cent, compared to 44 per cent in unvaccinated 25 - 29 year olds.
Dr Megan Smith, Research Fellow at Cancer Council NSW and advisor to Cancer Council Australia, said that the latest data contradicts what was previously thought about the link between HPV vaccination and cervical screening behaviour.
"Previous early data suggested that women who were vaccinated against HPV were less likely to participate in screening.
"But this latest data suggests this isn't the case - it's the young women who aren't vaccinated who are also most likely to be the ones who are missing their regular cervical screening test. It's a much scarier prospect because it leaves them particularly vulnerable to cervical cancer."
Dr Smith said it was important for all eligible women to participate in cervical screening from age 25, regardless of whether they had been vaccinated against HPV, and for parents of teens to support HPV vaccination.
The HPV vaccine is given to boys and girls at age 12-13 as part of the school-delivered national immunisation program.
"Most cervical cancers occur in women who have never been screened or are overdue for their test and cancers detected through screening have better survival rates. Regardless of whether you had the HPV vaccine, you still need to screen from the age of 25."
Where can I find more information?
For more information about cervical cancer or other cancer-related issues, give our Cancer Nurses a call on 13 11 20.