Upgrade to cervical test could help save lives

Ashwini SaseedaranSouth Western Times

As women’s rights and achievements are celebrated all over the South West on Thursday, health is also on the agenda as International Women’s Day serves as a timely reminder for women to keep updated on the latest cervical screening changes.

The two-yearly pap smear was replaced with a new and more effective five-yearly Cervical Screening Test on December 1 last year in an effort to detect cervical abnormalities earlier than was previously possible.

Cancer Council South West regional education officer Shenae Norris said the new tests would provide a better chance of preventing cervical cancer.

“The latest evidence shows the new test is just as safe as having a pap smear every two years but is expected to protect up to 30 per cent more women from cervical cancer,” she said.

Along with the change of tests, the age of women being screened has also been revised.

“Previously women were urged to start having pap smears from the age of 18, however, evidence shows despite screening women less than 25 years of age for over 20 years in Australia there has been no change to the number of cases or deaths from cervical cancer in this age group,” Ms Norris said.

“We also now know that treating common cervical abnormalities in young women that would usually resolve by themselves can increase the risk of pregnancy complications later in life.

“Due to this evidence, women are now being advised to start having Cervical Screening Tests from the age of 25 years.”

For more information about the National Cervical Screening Program speak with your healthcare provider, visit www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/cervicalscreening or call 13 15 56.

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