National News

Women 'shy away from cervical cancer test'

Australia could be the first country to eradicate cervical cancer by 2035 if fewer women were embarrassed to get potentially life-saving screening.

New research by the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation released on Thursday found a third of women put off having a cervical screening because it's "awkward", while a quarter are "embarrassed".

Ten per cent are concerned they aren't "normal down there", while eight per cent are concerned they might smell or aren't groomed appropriately.

The research was released as part of the foundation's cerFIX2035 campaign aimed at eradicating cervical cancer by 2035.

"Eradication is within our grasp - that is a truly exciting and achievable proposition," the foundation's CEO Joe Tooma said in a statement.

To make it a reality, the current cervical screening test participation rate needs to increase from 50 per cent to more than 70 per cent, he added.

High take-up rates of vaccination offered at schools must also be maintained.

General practitioner Ginni Mansberg hopes the campaign starts a conversation.

"It's important we continue to talk about screening and the value it provides to enable us to normalise the conversation, debunk common myths and most importantly, to encourage each other to attend," she said.

"It is perfectly normal to feel uncomfortable - over 40 per cent of women tell us it is - that's why it's important to talk to family and friends who have been through it, to better understand what to expect."

In December 2017, the Pap smear was replaced by the cervical screening test, which is required every five years instead of every two years.

The new test is more accurate at detecting the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus, the main cause of cervical cancer, but nearly half of women surveyed were unaware the screening had changed.

REASONS WOMEN PUT OFF CERVICAL SCREENING:

* Awkward 32.3 per cent

* Embarrassed 27.6pc

* Painful 18.5pc

* Exposing 17.7pc

* Fearful 15.8pc

* Violating 8.6pc

* Male GP 8.4pc

Source: Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation, PureProfile Consumer Survey, 2019

© AAP 2019