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More women being screened for cervical cancer

28 January 2008 Media Release

More women being screened to prevent cervical cancer

The number of women getting screened to prevent cervical cancer has increased following the launch of a new national campaign, says Associate Health Minister Steve Chadwick.

“An average of 3635 women have enrolled in the National Cervical Screening Programme each month since the campaign was launched by Prime Minister Helen Clark in September last year. That’s an increase of 4 per cent compared to monthly enrolments for the previous 12 months.

“Calls to the Programme’s 0800 information line have also increased by more than 30 per cent during the same time.

“This is great news for women. The initial results from this Labour-led government campaign indicate there is greater awareness of the risks of cervical cancer, and the importance of the benefits of regular cervical smears.”

The campaign includes television, radio and print advertising, and has a particular focus on Maori and Pacific women because they have lower screening rates.

“Feedback shows this campaign has got women talking about the benefits of regular checks. The light hearted use of humour in some of the TV ads seems to have really struck a chord with women.”

NCSP Clinical Leader, Dr Hazel Lewis, says the national coverage target for screening of all eligible women is 75 per cent.

“Before the start of the campaign, coverage was 70.4 percent across all groups. This has increased by nearly 1 percentage point in the first three months of the campaign, which is significant given that more than one million women are now enrolled.”

“It is pleasing to see increases also for Maori and Pacific women. Maori women’s coverage increased by 1 percentage point during the first 3 months, and Pacific women have increased by nearly 2 percentage points. Although it’s still early days, these results are significant and very encouraging,” says Dr Lewis.

The second stage of the campaign, featuring four new television commercials, has now started.

Steve Chadwick says the new commercials are designed to build on the work done so far, “The Labour-led government is committed to motivating even more women to be screened.

“Having a regular smear reduces a woman’s chances of dying from cervical cancer by around 90 percent. All women between 20 and 70 years of age who have ever been sexually active are encouraged to take part in the National Cervical Screening Programme.”

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide and the eighth most common in New Zealand.

The National Cervical Screening Programme has already led to a 50 per cent drop in the incidence of cervical cancer, and a 65 percent reduction in deaths from cervical cancer in New Zealand.

The campaign commercials can be viewed on the National Screening Unit’s website:


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