That’s three out of every four survivors.
It’s a heartbreaking statistic to absorb.
But for the Australians who work in this field, it is sadly “not surprising at all”.
While the survey was conducted in the UK by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, health experts have told Mamamia the figures on our shores would be very similar.
And considering about one in five Australian women has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 15, that makes a lot of us whose lives are being put at risk. It means sexual abusers are managing to take away a woman’s physical health – or life, even – years after an attack.
“Cervical screening is an inevitably intimate and invasive process and for some survivors it can trigger memories or even flashbacks to the sexual violence or abuse they’ve experienced,” Rape Crisis England & Wales spokeswoman Katie Russell said.
“The thought or reality of going for a test can cause some survivors to fear they’re not in full control of their body or situation and this can make them reluctant to access this vital health service.”
Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation chief executive Joe Tooma told Mamamia he found the results "worrying".
"It is absolutely devastating, and you can really sympathise with how they feel about it. Their trust has been broken," Mr Tooma said.
"I totally understand that if you have been assaulted or had a horrific event like that happen to you, then you'd be reluctant to undergo a very intimate examination."
But he warned that by not going, women were "hugely increasing their risk of dying from cervical cancer. It's a really important issue".
While it's believed cervical cancer could be effectively eliminated in Australia within 40 years, thanks to the national HPV immunisation program which began a decade ago, in 2018 it remains a devastating illness.