September is Cervical Screening Awareness Month
Cervical cancer is one of the easiest cancers to prevent – as long as we detect the cell changes that cause it, early. And guess what? New Zealand has one of the best cervical screening programmes in the world to help you.
Why have regular smear tests
Almost all cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus is spread by sexual activity. Eighty percent of people who have been sexually active will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives. But with regular cervical screening any changes on the cervix can be detected and treated before they become cancers.
Since the national screening programme started, the number of women who die of cervical cancer has dropped by nearly two thirds. And if every woman you know got tested regularly, the number could drop even lower.
Smear tests save lives
You can find out more at Preventing cervical cancer.
Who should have smear tests?
- are a woman or trans or non-binary person with a cervix
- are aged between 25 and 69 (From November 2019 the start age changed from 20 to 25 – find out more).
- have ever been sexually active
then you should have regular smear tests.
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.