Preventing Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is the 10th most common cancer for women but one of the most preventable cancers.
Did You Know?
- A woman's best protection against developing cervical cancer is having regular cervical smear tests.
- Cervical cancer is caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), a common, sexually transmitted infection.
- There are many types of HPV and only a few "high risk" types can lead to abnormal precancerous cells.
- Only women with a persistent infection (one which does not clear on its own) with a "high risk" HPV type are at risk of cervical cancer, if the abnormal cells are not detected by screening.
- A cervical smear test is a screening test to find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
- Regular cervical smear tests every three years are recommended for women from the age of 20 until they turn 70 if they have ever been sexually active.
- Having regular cervical smears can reduce a woman's risk of developing cervical cancer by 90 percent.
What Can I Do?
- Have regular three yearly cervical smears with your health professional.
- Contact your health professional if you have any unusual discharge or pain.
- Gardasil is a vaccine that helps prevent HPV. Girls born during 1990 and 1991 – who are in school or not – have until 31 December 2011 to start the HPV Immunisation Programme. If they have not received dose one by 31 December 2011 they cannot receive a publicly-funded vaccine.
Girls born from 1992 onwards currently have until their 20th birthday to start the HPV Immunisation Programme. If they have not received dose one by their 20th birthday they cannot receive a publicly-funded vaccine.