As part of Cervical Screening Awareness Month during September, Bay of Plenty and Lakes wāhine and people with a cervix are being encouraged to check that they are up to date with their cervical screening test.
“A cervical screening appointment usually takes less than 15 minutes and should normally be done every three years. It’s a simple procedure that has the proven ability to save lives,” says Lynne Clayton, Bay of Plenty and Lakes Regional Coordinator for the Cervical Screening Programme.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancers and results show that screening every three years can reduce the risk of developing it by up to 90 per cent. Finding the time for screening can be difficult but it’s important wāhine prioritise themselves and their hauora so that they can be well for their whānau.
The cervical screening (whakamātautau waha kōpū) test identifies abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. These cell changes are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection is very common, and most people come into contact with it at some stage of their life. Changes in the cervix from HPV infection happen slowly. By having regular cervical screening there is an excellent chance that the abnormal cells will be found and treated before they ever become cancer.
Together, the HPV vaccine and cervical screening are your best protection against cervical cancer. Anyone under the age of 27 can receive the HPV vaccine for free, and at a cost for all other ages.
To find out when your next test is due, where you can go to have a test or if you are eligible for the HPV vaccine contact your GP medical centre, Māori health service, Family Planning Clinic, sexual health services or local Cervical Screening Register Team.