Young women too complacent on cervical screening

"cancer" written in letterpress blocks

Young women are worryingly complacent about cervical cancer screening, says Cancer Council Victoria – so the organisation is set to remind them of its importance.

A campaign launching in Victoria this week will remind women overdue for their two-yearly Pap test that no matter how awkward, cervical screening provides peace of mind. About half of young Victorian women aren’t having Pap tests every two years, despite knowing they should.

The latest statistics show that only 52% of Victorian women aged 25 to 29 years are having two-yearly Pap tests, which is below the Victorian average of 60.4%.

PapScreen manager Hiranthi Perera says the campaign is vital to ensure that women do not delay screening, ahead of major changes to the National Cervical Screening Program due in mid-2017.

“Our research shows that many young Victorian women are complacent about their cervical screening,” says Perera.

“While most of these women know they need regular Pap tests, even if they have had the HPV vaccine, only half of these women continue to screen.”

In Victoria, 83% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have either never had a Pap test or did not have them regularly before diagnosis.

Young women aged 25 to 29 who have had the HPV vaccine are screening 13% less for cervical cancer than unvaccinated women. Only 45.2% of HPV-vaccinated women participate in regular screening versus 58.7% of unvaccinated women of the same age.

While the HPV vaccine protects against the two HPV types that cause around 70% of cervical cancers, it does not protect against all cancer-causing HPV types.

“The vast majority of Pap test results are normal, so for peace of mind about your health, book a Pap test if you are due,” Perera encourages women.

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