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Southern women are urged to think about the ones they love

Southern women are urged to think about the ones they love this September and have a smear

Southern women are being asked to consider the impact their health has on family and friends this September, by ensuring that their smears are up to date as part of Cervical Screening Awareness Month.

The focus of September’s Cervical Screening Awareness Month is to inspire women to think about the wider effect their health has on those they love – and how it is worth putting their health first for the ones they love.

“A cervical smear test usually takes less than fifteen minutes and should be done every three years. It is a simple procedure that has the proven ability to save lives,” commented Southern DHB Population Health Service Manager, Sharyn Robson.

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.

The cervical smear test is a screening test to find abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. These cell changes are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV) virus. HPV infection is very common, and most people come into contact with it at some stage of their life.

To support Cervical Screening Awareness Month in the Southern DHB district every woman who has a smear during the month of September will have the opportunity to enter a draw to win one of several gift baskets, and the DHB will also have notice boards up in their hospitals with information about Cervical Screening.

With cervical screening rates for Maori, Pacific and Asian women around 10 to 20 per cent lower than other groups these women are a particular priority.

“The changes in the cervix from HPV infection happen very slowly. By having regular smears there is an excellent chance that the abnormal cells will be found and treated long before they ever become cancer,” commented Ms Robson.

“A cervical smear test saves lives because it’s all about finding changes early. The sooner we can pick up any abnormal cells, the sooner a woman can be treated”.

The goal of the National Cervical Screening Programme is to reduce the number of women in New Zealand who develop cervical cancer.

Regular cervical smear tests are the best prevention, and screening every three years is recommended for women aged 20 to 70 years who have ever been sexually active.

“It’s easy to find out when your next smear is due. Call your GP, Family Planning or free-phone 0800 729 729,” said Ms Robson.

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