Cervical cancer is one of the easiest cancers to prevent – as long as we detect the cell changes that cause it, early.
We are fortunate in New Zealand to have one of the best cervical screening programmes in the world. Since the national screening programme started, the number of women who die of cervical cancer has dropped by nearly two thirds. But the programme only works if all women between 20 and 69 who have ever been sexually active have regular smear tests.
What is a smear testing for?
A cervical smear is a test which is performed to detect abnormal cells in the cervix. If abnormal cells are left untreated, they can cause cervical cancer. Almost all cell abnormalities which lead to cervical cancer are caused by the HPV virus. This is spread through sexual activity.Eighty percent of sexually active people will have the HPV virus at some point in their lives. This why is it important to get tested regularly.
Smear tests save lives
Who should have smear tests?
Everyone in the following groups should have regular smear tests:
- are a woman or trans or non-binary person with a cervix
- are aged between 20 and 69
- have ever been sexually active
This includes if you:
- are immunised against HPV
- are single
- only have sex with women
- have a disability
- have been through menopause
- are no longer having sex.
If you have had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) check with your health provider if you still need to be screened.