This September marks Cervical Screening Awareness month and New Zealand women are being urged to consider their health and make a cervical screen a priority, especially during this month.
Cervical Screening Month highlights the importance of having smear tests and there is the hope that it will also motivate more women to book their screenings.
General Manager of Well Women and Family Trust, Jane Piper says, “It’s a short and simple procedure that has a proven ability to save lives. We recommend screening every three years to reduce the risk of bad cells developing into something that could potentially be life-threatening.”
A 39-year-old grandmother, Vera Wipani from Manukau had been for her regular screening tests when she was notified of an abnormality.
She says ‘‘After a routine screening I got called back to the doctors and was sent for a colposcopy. It was a very nervous time waiting for the results. My daughter was only six at the time and I didn’t know what I would do if the results were bad.
‘When I found out I had the all-clear I was very relieved. I became a real promoter for screening and told my mum and my aunties they should get screened.’’
Vera is now an advocate for cervical screening and reminds women around her of the importance of a having a regular smear test.
She adds that Māori women can often feel embarrassed and reluctant when it comes to having a smear test and that this needs to be addressed.
‘‘The embarrassment of the screening process is always the hardest part for me – walking in and getting on that table – but it’s just something I accept and get on with as it’s so worth it.
‘‘Many of my friends tell me it’s the embarrassment that puts them off and there’s a Kiwi attitude – ‘she’ll be right’ – it won’t happen to me. I know people who’ve died because of cancer so regular screening really is a no brainer for me,’’ adds Vera."
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer, therefore, having a screening every three years can reduce the rick of developing it by 90%.
To find out more on this, you can visit the cervical screening website here.