Low pap smear rates: women urged to take regular medical tests

ONLY 56.7 per cent of Ballarat women aged 18 to 70 had a pap smear in 2011/12.

The Department of Health figure compares poorly to Hepburn’s 62.7 per cent and Golden Plains’ 62.1 per cent, but is a slight improvement on the Pyrenees’ 55.8 per cent.

However, PapScreen Victoria manager Hiranthi Perera said the Grampians’ overall figure of 57.6 per cent was concerning as it was one of the lowest in the state.

“It is very worrying to learn that so many women from the Grampians are not undergoing regular pap tests, however it’s encouraging to see that the rate has increased by 1.3 per cent from 2010/2011,” Ms Perera said.

“We know that some women feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about having pap tests and our busy lives can make finding the time difficult.

“But a simple pap test every two years is the best way to protect yourself against cervical cancer.

“I encourage all women who are due for a pap test to make an appointment today.”

The Grampians’ 57.6 per cent figure equates to just 35,520 women having a pap test and is below the current state average of 60 per cent.

National guidelines recommend all women aged 18 to 70 who have ever been sexually active have a pap test every two years.

In 2012, there were 213 new cases of cervical cancer and 51 deaths from the disease. The rate of cervical cancer diagnosis in Victoria has dropped by 3.7 per cent on average each year since organised screening began in 1991.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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