Stay up to date with pap smears, urges Cancer Council

CANCER Council has urged Queensland women to be vigilant about cervical cancer screening, after nearly 1000 women did not receive screening follow-up letters from the Queensland Pap Smear Register.

The Department of Health is contacting 980 Queensland women and their pap smear provider after an issue was identified with the Pap Smear Register’s automatic mailing system.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift encouraged all women not up-to-date with their screening to see their GP for a pap-smear test.


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“This is particularly important for any woman who has previously had an abnormal pap-smear result,” Ms Clift said.

“While issues like this are concerning, we are relieved that the issue has been identified and we are pleased with Queensland Health’s response plan.

“We have been assured Queensland Health will take steps to ensure this does not happen again and support Queensland Health’s action to ensure this issue is resolved.

“Women who have concerns about screening for cervical cancer should contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.”

A Pap smear test is designed to detect early changes in the cells of the cervix which may later lead to cancer.

Early detection of cervical cancer by Pap smear testing remains the best weapon to combat the morbidity and mortality associated with the disease.

All women aged 18 to 70 years who have ever been sexually active should have regular Pap smears every two years.

“If every eligible woman had a Pap smear every two years, 90 per cent of cervical cancer could be prevented,” Ms Clift said.

“About 56 per cent of Queensland women currently participate in screening, compared to a national average of about 58 per cent.

“In Queensland, as in Australia, the participation rates for cervical cancer screening are lower in remote communities, areas of low socioeconomic status and those living in Indigenous communities.

“It’s also important to be aware of the symptoms of cervical cancer, including discomfort during sexual intercourse, irregular bleeding from the vagina between periods, post-menopausal or after intercourse.”

The women affected had previously received low level abnormality in pap smear test results.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.

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