Cervical Screening Month a prompt for Whanganui women

Whanganui women are urged to view the September Cervical Screening Awareness Month campaign as a prompt to take control of their health.
Whanganui DHB Professional Advisor Health Promotion Lauren Tamehana says cervical cancer is not only one of the most preventable of all cancers but having regular cervical smears can reduce women’s risk of developing it by 90 percent.
“While some cancers appear with little warning and little is known about how they could have been prevented, cervical cancer is different,” Mrs Tamehana says.
“It is very preventable, so we encourage women to view Cervical Screening Awareness Month as a prompt to have a think about when they last had a cervical smear test.”
A number of additional cervical screening clinics are being provided for Whanganui District women during September.
Women are advised to contact their primary health organisation or Iwi provider for more information. Cervical screening health promoter Marguerite McGuckin will be moving from site to site throughout the month, handing out brochures and ‘gifts’. 
It is cell changes to the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer - cell changes caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus, which the majority of people come into contact with at some stage in their life.
The changes happen very slowly, so by having regular smears, there is a very high likelihood that abnormal cells will be found and treated long before they ever become cancer.
Investing a small amount of time in having regular cervical smears can save lives. Regular cervical smear tests every three years are recommended from the age of 20 to 70 for women who have ever been sexually active.
It is hoped that Whanganui women will book in for a smear test if it is due or overdue.
For women who are not sure when their smear is due, or who want to find out more about cervical screening, call freephone 0800 729 729, your general practice team or go to www.cervicalscreening.govt.nz,
“There are lots of things in life that you can’t control, but having a regular cervical smear test can greatly reduce your likelihood of developing cervical cancer,” Mrs Tamehana says.