The National Cervical Screening Programme is available to all women in New Zealand between 20 and 70 years old.
The screening test checks for abnormal cell changes to the cervix, reducing the risk of women developing cervical cancer.
Did you know that........
- Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable of all cancers.
- Cervical cancer is caused by certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common virus passed on by sexual contact.
- Most people will come into contact with HPV at some stage during their life. Most HPV infections clear by themselves, but some high-risk types can cause cell changes on the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer 10 to 20 years after infection. Other types can cause genital warts, but these strains do not lead to cancer.
- A woman’s best protection against developing cervical cancer is having regular cervical smear tests. A cervical smear test is a screening test to find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
- HPV testing may sometimes be carried out to see if certain high-risk types of HPV are present in the cervix. This helps to define the risk of cervical cancer.
- Immunisation is now available to protect women against two common types of HPV (types 16 and 18) that cause around 70 percent of cervical cancer.
- The vaccine does not protect against all HPV types; therefore, women who have been immunised must still continue to have smear tests.
- Regular cervical smear tests every three years are recommended for women, if they have ever been sexually active, from the age of 20 until they turn 70.
- Having regular cervical smears can reduce a woman’s risk of developing cervical cancer by 90 percent.
- Together, screening and immunisation offer the most effective protection against cervical cancer.
See your doctor if you have:
- bleeding between menstrual periods
- bleeding after sexual intercourse
- bleeding after menstrual periods have stopped (menopause)
- unusual discharge from your vagina
- persistent pain in your pelvis
- pain during sexual intercourse
These symptoms can occur for many reasons, but they should always be checked out.