Cervical cancer awareness week

November 12, 2023

By Dr Rebecca Goodman

Cervical cancer awareness week is from 13-19 November. Every year, over 900 Australian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, which is the 5th most common cancer among women aged 15 and 44.

Cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Thanks to Australia’s HPV immunisation program, combined with cervical screening, rates of cervical cancer continue to decline. We are working towards the elimination of cervical cancer in Australia by 2030.

Protection against cervical cancer includes:

  • HPV vaccination from 12 to 25 years, and
  • Regular cervical screening from 25–74 years.

HPV vaccine

The benefit of HPV vaccine is greater when given before exposure to the HPV virus. The vaccine is ideally given to young people in early high school before they become sexually active. A single dose of the HPV vaccine is funded under the National Immunisation Program for adolescents aged 12 to 13. Adolescents who missed the HPV vaccination at 12 to 13 years of age can catch up to the age of 25.

Cervical screening (previous known as a pap smear)

Despite advances with the HPV vaccine, it’s still essential that you get regular cervical screening. Cervical screening is a simple test either performed either by your GP or a self-collection swab every 5 years to check for HPV.  The self-collection swab is a great alternative for eligible patients (e.g. normal previous screening and no symptoms) and is as effective as the GP doing the test.  You are eligible for a subsidised cervical screening if you are:

  • a person with a cervix
  • aged between 25 and 74
  • sexually active or ever have been.

Come in and see us and keep yourself healthy.  You can book a cervical cancer screen (pap smear) or vaccination online or contact the practice on 4284 4622. An easy way to remember your cervical cancer screening is to sign up with the National Cancer Screening Register. If you are not already on the register, ask your GP at your next appointment.