- Pap test rates 10–13 % lower among
New online video and letter campaign to
Cancer Council Victoria and Victorian Cytology Service
Inc are reminding young women that even if they've had the human papillomavirus
(HPV) vaccine, regular cervical screening is still essential to prevent
New research published in the Medical Journal of Australia today shows that women who have
received the HPV vaccine are less likely to undergo cervical screening than
their unvaccinated counterparts.
Using data from the Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry
and the National HPV Vaccination Program Register, the authors found that Pap
test rates were 13 per cent lower among vaccinated women aged 25 to 29 in
2010–2011 than unvaccinated women in the same age group (45.2 per cent versus
58.7 per cent). For women aged 20 to 24, Pap test rates were 10 per cent lower
in vaccinated women than unvaccinated women (37.6 per cent versus 47.7 per
A Pap test looks for abnormal changes to the cells on the cervix, which
if left undetected and untreated, could develop into cervical cancer.
Executive Director of the Victorian Cytology Service Inc, Associate
Professor Marion Saville, says "Despite education messages provided to young
women, and their best intentions to undergo regular cervical screening, the
results of this new research suggest that vaccinated women are being screened
at lower rates than unvaccinated women in Australia."
"The HPV vaccine protects against the two HPV
types that cause around 70 per cent of cervical cancers, but does not protect
against all cancer-causing HPV types. So it's crucial that young women
participate in cervical screening whether they're vaccinated or not, especially
once they reach 25."
In an effort to
increase cervical screening participation, the Victorian Cervical Cytology
Register will write to women aged 25 to 34 who have never had a Pap test to
highlight the need for regular cervical screening, even if they've had the HPV
vaccine. This $170,000 initiative has been funded by the Victorian State
Government and will commence in 2015.
Cancer Council Victoria and PapScreen Victoria have also created a short online video to help relieve some
of the anxiety young women feel when having a Pap test and make light of what
can be an awkward experience.
Kate Broun, Screening Manager at Cancer Council Victoria, says the new
research highlights the need for greater awareness of cervical cancer
prevention among young women.
"Historically, younger women are
less likely to undergo regular Pap tests than women in older age groups, so the
misconception that vaccinated women don't need cervical screening is a real
"We know that Pap tests can be
uncomfortable and some women get embarrassed about having them, but screening
even if vaccinated is still vitally important for preventing cervical cancer
for all women."
The HPV vaccine
(Gardasil) is provided to girls and boys aged 12–13 years at school as part of
the National HPV Vaccination Program. Until the end of 2014, boys aged 14–15
can also receive the vaccine at school as part of a national catch-up program.
For more information on the HPV vaccine visit www.hpvvaccine.org.au