Yarra Ranges and Knox outperforms state’s cervical screening participation

Data shows one in three eligible Victorians are still not participating in the life-saving cervical test. Picture: UNSPLASH.

Data reveals people in the outer-east of Melbourne have outperformed the state’s average in participating in the National Cervical Screening Program.

Cancer Council Victoria has launched a new campaign to increase awareness of the importance of regular cervical screening and the option to self-collect your test.

According to AIHW data, more than 72 per cent of people in Knox and Yarra Ranges have participated in the National Cervical Screening Program, while Victoria’s average is sitting at 69 per cent.

The ‘In Your Hands’ campaign data shows more than 200 Victorians were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2022, with more than 1000 cases diagnosed in the five years of 2018 to 2022.

A Cervical Screening Test is the best way to prevent cervical cancer and is recommended every five years for women and people with a cervix aged 25-74 under the National Cervical Screening Program.

Yet, data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows around one in three eligible Victorians are still not participating in this life-saving test.

Cancer Council Victoria Screening, Early Detection and Immunisation head Kate Broun said she hopes the campaign encourages eligible women and people with a cervix to make cervical screening a priority.

“The Cervical Screening Test is unique in that it can find people at risk of cervical cancer before it even starts to develop. It does this by looking for the very common virus that causes almost all cases of cervical cancer, human papillomavirus or HPV,” she said.

“By participating in cervical screening, we can find the HPV infection and treat any cervical cell changes it may cause before they may develop into cancer. This is why it’s so important that everyone who is eligible does the test as soon as they are due and doesn’t put it off.”

Health minister Mary-Anne Thomas is urging Victorian women to keep up to date with their cervical cancer screenings.

“With self-collection making it easier and less daunting, we are urging all women to ensure they keep up with their five-yearly cervical screening – the earlier the diagnosis and access to treatment, the better chance of survival,” she said.

In July 2022, the option to self-collect your Cervical Screening Test using a small swab was expanded from limited eligibility criteria, to be made available to everyone eligible for cervical screening, something that Ms Broun said has been a significant step in addressing some of the barriers preventing people from participating.