The Cancer Council has issued an urgent reminder to Gold Coast women to get a pap smear, after new data shows only half of all eligible women in Queensland are participating in the screening process – the second lowest rate in the country.
It comes as the Cancer Council revealed that rates of cervical cancer in the state dropped by more than half between 1982 (when records began) and 2008, but have now plateaued.
Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said it was a wake-up call for women who had not been following recommended screening guidelines.
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“The screening program helps to detect cervical cancer at the pre-invasive stage and then enables the initiation of early treatment – saving lives,” she said.
“While we can’t be certain of causes of the plateau of incidence rates, we do know that only about half of all eligible women in Queensland get regular pap smears – the second lowest rate in the country.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of cervical cancer screening to detect abnormalities early and reduce deaths from the disease.
From late this year, a new cervical cancer screening test will be available for all Australian women aged 25 to 74.
“The new cervical screening test will be more effective than a pap smear and just as safe,” Ms Clift said.
“We expect more women will take part in the new screening program, providing us with the best possible prospects for beating this dreaded disease.
Cancer Council Queensland urges eligible women to continue participating in the current pap smear screening program until the new test becomes available.