NEW data shows more than one third of south-west women are increasing their risk of cervical cancer by not having regular Pap tests.
Coinciding with Inter-national Women’s Day on Friday, figures released from the Cancer Council shows that in 2011 about 5600 Victorian women were diagnosed with bowel, breast or cervical cancer, all of which are largely preventable through regular screening.
In the same year, these cancers claimed the lives of 1345 women in Victoria.
The figures follow data released by the Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry that revealed about 60 per cent of women in the south-west had a Pap test during 2010-2011.
Guidelines from the National Cervical Screening Program suggest all women aged between 18 and 70 who have ever been sexually active have a Pap test every two years.
A Pap test looks for abnormal changes to the cells on the cervix, which if left undetected and untreated, could develop into cervical cancer.
About 90 per cent of cervical cancer cases could be avoided with regular screening.
Across the region 57.8 per cent and 57.1 per cent of women in the Corangamite Shire and Glenelg Shire, respectively, had a Pap test during the 2010-2011 period and 61.1 per cent of women in the Moyne Shire and 61.9 per cent in Southern Grampians Shire had a Pap test.
In the Warrnambool municipality 63.6 per cent of women had a Pap test compared to 66.4 per cent in the Colac Otway Shire. The Victorian state average was 59.2 per cent.
Kate Broun, from the Cancer Council Victoria, said preventive health measures like screening often took a backseat, yet by doing so women were putting themselves at a much greater risk of developing cancer.