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A new report released this week by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that South Australia has the highest cervical cancer screening rate in the country.

The AIHW Cancer Screening Programs: Quarterly Data report presents the latest information on participation in Australia’s national bowel, breast and cervical cancer screening programs.

The report shows South Australia’s cervical screening rate currently sits at 59.7 per cent, compared to the national rate of 55.9 per cent.

With Australia on track to eliminate cervical cancer by 2035 through a combination of screening and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination, these rates paint a positive picture for South Australia.

“Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable of all cancers, with screening and HPV vaccination the key to eliminating cervical cancer as a public health issue,” said Senior Prevention Project Officer, Tamara Shipley.

“It’s fantastic to see South Australia leading the country in cervical screening, however, we’re still short of the 70 per cent target outlined by the World Health Organisation’s strategy to effectively eliminate cervical cancer.”

“We’re heading in the right direction, but still have a way to go,” she said.

Women and people with a cervix aged between 25 and 74 who have ever been sexually active should have a cervical screening test every five years. The test detects the presence of HPV, which causes almost all cervical cancers.

“While South Australia is leading the way nationally, these rates show that two out of five eligible people haven’t had their regular test,” she said.

Women and people with a cervix aged 30 years or older who haven’t had test in four or more years may also be eligible to take their own self-collected test at a GP clinic, rather than have the traditional speculum examination.

Dr Annapurna Nori, Public Health Medical Officer from the Aboriginal Health Council of SA, said that self-collection is a good option for people who are feeling hesitant about doing a cervical screening test.

“For many women self-collection may be a good option, particularly if they are feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed about the procedure, or if they’ve had difficulty previously when they’ve had the test done. They can do it in the privacy of the clinic room itself or can go to the clinic toilets to complete the test,” she said.

Ahead of the Christmas break, Mrs Shipley reminded South Australian women and people with a cervix to take the time to book a cervical screening test with their GP if they’re overdue, or speak to their GP about self-collection.

“We know December is an incredibly busy time, but it’s important that if you’re overdue for a cervical screening test, you book in with your GP today or talk about the option of self-collection,” she said.

“Given we know that regular screening is effective in preventing cervical cancer, having the test could save your life.”

For more information on cervical cancer screening visit the Cancer Council SA website here.

You can also contact Cancer Council on 13 11 20 for more information or visit the SA Health website.