Whanganui women urged to take control this Cervical Screening Awareness Month

10 September 2014
Whanganui District Health Board and Whanganui Regional Health Network (WRHN) are urging Whanganui women to think about their health this September by having a cervical smear test.
This month is Cervical Screening Awareness Month and WRHN clinical director Dr Alan Mangan says it’s a timely reminder for women to get themselves checked.
“We want Whanganui women to consider the wider effect their health has on those closest to them and that it is important to be healthy,” Dr Mangan says. “The cervical smear test is simple and only takes about 10 minutes, so it’s well worth the small amount of time it takes for women and their families to have that piece of mind that they are healthy.”
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancers and results show that having regular smear tests every three years can reduce the risk of developing it by up to 90 percent.
Although we know cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, it is also one of the highest causes of death amongst our Māori women. Māori and Pacific women develop this type of cancer at twice the rate of all women, largely because they are less likely to have cervical screening than non-Māori, non-Pacific women.
“It can’t be stressed enough how important it is that all women have regular cervical smear tests - both for themselves and for their whānau,” Dr Mangan says.
The cervical smear test is a screening test to find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix which can occur in all women who are or have been sexually active. The majority of the cases are caused by the HPV virus and we now offer a vaccine which will assist in the prevention of this condition long term.
“The cervical smear test saves lives because it’s all about early detection,” Dr Mangan says. “The sooner any abnormal cells are found, the sooner treatment can begin - long before they become cancer.

“Cervical smears are recommended for all women aged 20 to 70 years who have ever been sexually active. Women who have had the HPV vaccine also need to remember that they should still be having regular smears.”

Changes in the cervix from HPV infection happen slowly. By having regular smears there is an excellent chance any abnormal cells will be found and treated before they ever become cancer.  To find out when your next smear is due contact your general practice team. 

For more information visit www.cervicalscreening.govt.nz or phone free on 0800 729 729.