Nearly half of Australian women are still not getting screened regularly enough for cervical cancer, according to the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation.
Cervical cancer screening, which is carried out by doctors and women’s health services, detects low-grade abnormalities in about 100,000 women every year and high-grade abnormalities in about 30,000 women.
The disease should be almost entirely preventable, with abnormalities easily treated if they are detected before developing into pre-cancers or cancers.
Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation chief executive Joe Tooma said there were a “couple of million” Australian women not up to date with their screening.
“While women are able to have a pap test or cervical screening done every two years, 43 per cent of women don’t get it done regularly enough,” he said.
“What we know is 90 per cent of the women who are going to get cervical cancer or die from cervical cancer are in that group.”
Vaccine only protects against 80 per cent of cancers
Mr Tooma, who was launching National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, said all sexually active women up to the age of 70 should be getting screened at least every two years.
He urged young women in particular to go along to their doctors — 57 per cent of women aged 18–24 are not up to date.
“One of the issues there is that … while the cervical cancer vaccine is very effective and very, very safe, it only protects you against the two main viruses that cause 80 per cent of cervical cancers,” Mr Tooma said.
“The other viruses that cause the other 20 per cent of cervical cancers are not necessarily covered in that vaccine.”
The three-dose cervical cancer vaccine is available for girls in their early teens.
“The kids usually get it when they’re around 12 or 13, in the first year of high school,” he said.
“We’ve just got to make sure that they have all three doses.”
Cervical cancer awareness week runs until November 13.
This post originally appeared on ABC News.
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