Only 54% of women in the Moira Shire Council area had a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer in 2010-2011.By Racheal Willett
Only 54% of women in the Moira Shire Council area had a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer in 2010-2011, according to information released by PapScreen Victoria.
The figure ranks the Moira local government area as the second lowest in the Hume health region, falling behind neighbouring shires including Wangaratta, Wodonga, Greater Shepparton and Indigo.
Alpine Shire topped the region with a 68.8% cervical screening rate in 2010-2011.
Registered Nurse Carmel Saunders from Yarrawonga’s Denis Medical Clinic said women often delayed having regular screening because they felt uncomfortable.
“There’s no doubt women look at that circle on the calendar for their Pap test and cringe, but the reality is it is a short, simple procedure - just a few moments of discomfort for something that is very important,” Ms Saunders said.
In 2011, 182 Victorian women were diagnosed with cervical cancer and 51 died from the disease.
Mortality rates have decreased by more than 6% each year since the cervical screening program was introduced in 1991.
“We understand that when it comes to having a Pap test done a lot of women would prefer to see a female doctor or nurse,” Ms Saunders said.
“We provide a variety of options including a once weekly Pap test clinic allowing women to make an appointment with a female nurse, a women’s wellness clinic conducted by Dr Tania Jones and we also have several female doctors who are available for GP appointments.
“Women like to have choices, so we offer these options for them to choose what they are comfortable with. In most cases we are talking about a 15 minute appointment – then it’s done for another two years.”
National screening guidelines suggest all women aged between 18 and 70 who have ever been sexually active should have a Pap test every two years.
The test looks for abnormal changes to the cells on the cervix which if left undetected and untreated could develop into cervical cancer. It is estimated up to 90% of cervical cancer cases could be avoided with regular screening.
For more information go to PapScreen Victoria’s website at www.papscreen.org.au or contact your local medical clinic to make an appointment.
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