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Risk of cervical cancer at all-time low for Australian women

Friday 1 May, 2015

PapScreen Victoria welcomes the latest data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare confirming the rates of cervical cancer cases and mortality in Australia are low compared to international standards, thanks to the work of the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) and the introduction of the HPV vaccine.

The data from Cervical screening in Australia 2012-2013 report shows historically low rates of cervical cancer risk (high-grade abnormalities) in women aged 24 and under.

"It's clear both the introduction of the HPV vaccine and the work of the National Cervical Screening Program have had a tremendous effect in reducing the risk of cervical cancer," said Hiranthi Perera, Manager of PapScreen Victoria.

Victorian women's participation in cervical screening has increased slightly in 2012-2013 at 61.6% of women aged 20-69 years, above the national average of 58.2%.

"It's not all good news. Some groups of women are still not screening for cervical cancer. The incidence and mortality rates are still high among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, with these women being twice as likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer and four times more likely to die from the disease than the non-Indigenous population. Additionally, women residing in areas of lower socioeconomic status are screening less than the rest of the population."

The report also shows an increase in the rate of cervical cancer abnormalities detected among women aged 25 to 39.

Currently the HPV vaccine protects against the two high-risk types of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancers.

"It's important that all women, even those who have had the HPV vaccine, have a Pap test every two years as recommended. A Pap test is the best way to detect any cell changes in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer," said Ms Perera.

The incidence and mortality of cervical cancer in Australian women has halved since the introduction of the NCSP in 1991. In 2011 682 new cervical cancer cases were diagnosed and 143 women died from cervical cancer in 2012.

PapScreen Victoria is a communications and recruitment program funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services as part of the National Cervical Screening Program and is coordinated by Cancer Council Victoria.

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