Young Women Urged Not To Be Complacent As Cervical Screening Rates Fall

Young women are being urged to have regular Pap tests to help prevent cervical cancer, after new data revealed a concerning drop in screening rates for women aged 20 to 29 years.

The Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry 2014 annual report released today shows less than half of women aged 20 to 29 years are being regularly screened for cervical cancer, with test rates of women in this age group falling more than 8 per cent from 52.7 per cent in 2006-2007 to 46 per cent in 2013-14.

The report also reveals there has been an overall decline in screening rates across all age groups compared to the previous year.

In the City of Melbourne, only 42.7 per cent of women aged 20-29 are getting regular Pap tests. The Melbourne LGA has the lowest rates of women having two yearly Pap tests of anywhere in the state.

Not screening regularly is the biggest risk factor for cervical cancer. In Victoria, 74 per cent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer either never had a Pap test or had let their screening lapse prior to diagnosis.

In 2014, 177 new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed in Victoria and 53 women died from the disease. It is a very preventable disease if caught early, and regular screening plays a critical role in early detection.

The Local Government Areas with the lowest rates of women having two-yearly Pap tests are:

Melbourne 42.7%

Wyndham 49.4%

Northern Grampians 51.0%

Hume 52.2%

Hindmarsh 52.2%

The Local Government Areas with the highest rates of women having two-yearly Pap tests are:

Queenscliffe 76.2%

Mount Alexander 75.0%

Bayside 72.7%

Nillumbik 70.6%

Indigo 70.2%

Current national guidelines recommend that all women aged 18 to 70 who have ever been sexually active should have a Pap test every two years and regular Pap tests are recommended even after the HPV vaccine.

From 1 May 2017, the Pap test will be replaced with an HPV test. The National Cervical Screening Program will invite women aged 25-74 to have a HPV test every five years.

The Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry annual report can be found at http://www.vccr.org/data-research/statistical-reports/annual-statistical-reports

Quotes attributable to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy

“We all know Pap tests can be awkward but it’s not worth risking your life over – if you’re overdue for a test, book in today because that awkward Pap test could save your life.”

“Around 75 per cent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer had either never had a Pap test or had not had them regularly before diagnosis – not getting tested is just not worth the risk.”

“My message to young women is do not become complacent. Even if you have had a HPV vaccine you still need to have a regular test.”

Quotes attributable to Medical Director of the Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry Professor Dorota Gertig

“The fall in screening amongst women aged 20 to 29 years is of concern.”

“While many of Victoria’s young women have had the HPV vaccine to protect against most strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer, these women should not be complacent.”

“It’s vital for all vaccinated and un-vaccinated women to have regular Pap tests to be sure.”

“The rates of women having regular (every two years) Pap tests by local government area in 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 in Victoria.”

Rank Local government area 2012-2013 2013-2014 Rank Local government area 2012-2013 2013-2014

1

Queenscliffe

74.70%

76.20%

41

Moonee Valley

61.80%

60.50%

2

MountAlexander

76.30%

75.00%

42

Maroondah

61.60%

60.40%

3

Bayside

74.00%

72.70%

43

Hepburn

61.80%

60.30%

4

Nillumbik

72.60%

70.60%

44

Bass Coast

60.40%

60.20%

5

Indigo

70.90%

70.20%

45

Greater Bendigo

62.20%

60.20%

6

Wangaratta

70.30%

68.70%

46

Mildura

61.90%

60.10%

7

Macedon Ranges

69.50%

68.70%

47

Horsham

62.00%

59.50%

8

Alpine

68.40%

67.90%

48

Gannawarra

59.70%

59.10%

9

Towong

68.80%

67.50%

49

Murrindindi

61.80%

58.90%

10

Benalla

71.00%

67.50%

50

Glenelg

57.70%

58.80%

11

Mansfield

66.40%

67.00%

51

Moreland

59.10%

58.80%

12

Surf Coast

68.30%

66.40%

52

Whitehorse

61.00%

58.70%

13

Stonnington

66.50%

65.00%

53

Greater Shepparton

60.30%

58.50%

14

Yarra

66.00%

65.00%

54

Darebin

59.20%

58.50%

15

South Gippsland

63.60%

64.90%

55

Wellington

57.50%

58.30%

16

Manningham

66.40%

64.80%

56

Cardinia

58.20%

57.60%

17

Boroondara

67.20%

64.80%

57

Maribyrnong

58.10%

57.00%

18

Warrnambool

65.30%

64.20%

58

Ballarat

57.10%

56.80%

19

Mornington Peninsula

65.00%

64.20%

59

Latrobe

58.00%

56.70%

20

Banyule

65.40%

64.10%

60

Monash

58.10%

56.50%

21

Colac-Otway

62.20%

63.80%

61

Moira

56.80%

56.40%

22

Baw Baw

64.90%

63.70%

62

West Wimmera

54.50%

56.10%

23

Yarra Ranges

65.00%

63.50%

63

Casey

57.70%

56.10%

24

Corangamite

63.10%

63.20%

64

Central Goldfields

55.20%

55.50%

25

Wodonga

65.90%

63.00%

65

Yarriambiack

54.90%

55.10%

26

Moyne

63.80%

62.90%

66

Mitchell

56.00%

54.90%

27

Glen Eira

64.90%

62.90%

67

Greater Dandenong

55.20%

54.90%

28

Golden Plains

63.10%

62.70%

68

Frankston

55.40%

54.30%

29

Campaspe

63.50%

62.40%

69

Whittlesea

55.40%

54.00%

30

Greater Geelong

63.30%

62.30%

70

Brimbank

54.90%

54.00%

31

Port Phillip

62.70%

61.90%

71

Pyrenees

56.90%

53.80%

32

Knox

62.90%

61.80%

72

Loddon

54.50%

53.00%

33

Kingston

62.00%

61.80%

73

Ararat

55.40%

52.30%

34

Southern Grampians

62.30%

61.70%

74

Melton

52.80%

52.30%

35

Strathbogie

64.10%

61.70%

75

Hindmarsh

57.60%

52.20%

36

East Gippsland

62.30%

61.40%

76

Hume

53.50%

52.20%

37

Hobsons Bay

61.70%

61.20%

77

Northern Grampians

52.00%

51.00%

38

Buloke

65.70%

60.90%

78

Wyndham

50.10%

49.40%

39

Swan Hill

61.80%

60.90%

79

Melbourne

44.40%

42.70%

40

Moorabool

62.20%

60.50%