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Family Planning Wants Women To Make Resolution

Family Planning Wants Women To Make New Year Resolution

24 December 2007

Family Planning is urging New Zealand women to make a life-saving New Year’s resolution in 2008 – to have a cervical smear test.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide and the eighth most common in New Zealand. Maori and Pacific women develop this cancer at twice the rate of all women – largely because they are much less likely to have cervical screening than non-Maori, non-Pacific women.

Family Planning clinic staff are specialist smear takers and are linked to the National Cervical Screening Programme. In the last financial year, just over 21,000 New Zealand women chose to have a cervical screen taken at a Family Planning clinic.

Chief Executive Jackie Edmond says women should be encouraging each other to overcome any shyness or embarrassment about having a cervical smear.

“We hope women will talk to their mothers, daughters, sisters and friends about having a regular smear – cervical cancer is one of the most preventable of all cancers and with early detection, survival rates are high. Social time over the holidays would be a great opportunity for women to encourage others to join or rejoin the screening programme,” Ms Edmond says.

A new cervical screening campaign, including television, radio and print advertising, was launched in September this year with a particular focus on Maori and Pacific women because of their lower screening rates.

Who should have a cervical screen?
• 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 is a cervical screen checking for?
• 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.

More information is available at www.familyplanning.org.nz or at www.nsu.govt.nz

ENDS

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