Why women need to know about pap smears…

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Alysha, from Balance Advisors discusses her reason for regularly getting a smear test, and explains why us ladies should all do it too. 

Gynaecological cancers make up approximately 10% of all cancer cases and cancer deaths in New Zealand. There are five main forms – ovarian, cervical, endometrial (or uterine), vaginal, and vulvar.  Every year approximately 1000 women are diagnosed with 1 of the 5 and of this approximately 400 women die every year. Ovarian cancer being the highest statistic, taking the life of 1 woman every 48 hours.


Cervical cancer. 160 NZ women are diagnosed each year and around 50 women die. Protection is in the form of early diagnosis. The only gynaecological cancer that has a screening programme in New Zealand is cervical cancer and this national programme is helping to reduce the number of women presenting with cervical cancer. However, no screening exists for the other four gynaecological cancers so it is crucial to know the signs and symptoms and have the knowledge so women can speak to their GP’s straight away. From adult age it is recommended that us ladies have one every three years. It is standard procedure for this to be three years as cervical cancer is generally very slow growing and takes years to fully develop. Abnormalities in the cells of the cervix can be detected by cervical screening and removed.


Early detection significantly increases the likelihood of surviving any of the gynae cancers and this is just one of the many reasons why it is my mission to increase awareness of the signs and symptoms – with not just women but the medial fraternity also, especially GPs to ensure that issues are picked up as early as possible.

This video complimentary from Ministry of Health 2015

Each year there are around 25,000 abnormal smear test results among New Zealand women.

*Without cervical screening about one out of 90 women will develop cervical cancer and one out of 200 will die from it.

*With cervical screening about one out of 570 will develop cervical cancer and one out of 1280 will die from it.

In 2015 I was one of these figures. I had a few issues after the very speedy delivery of my youngest daughter, my GP at the time had no answers. Thankfully I’m one for listening to my gut instincts and changed my GP. Long story short, my smear test showed abnormal cells. After testing these abnormal cells, results concluded these cells were “high grade” but PRE cancer cells. After following my GPs recommendations, I had the LETZ procedure performed to remove these cells. This process took 20 minutes, there was hardly any pain at all, and I was home and back to ‘mum life’ that afternoon!! Since then I have been recommended to have annual smears done.

I had my third annual smear last month since the procedure and I was shocked when the nurse thanked me for coming. I questioned it and she said although they send up to three reminder texts, very few women actually book in. I left wondering why??? Yeah it’s a bit odd, it’s a little uncomfortable, but it’s not painful. 15 minutes out of your day every three years… It’s definitely worth it! Don’t you think? And with another clear result I am back to only needing them every three years.

In 2012: Cervical cancer 11th most common cancer in women. 21st most common cancer overall. 19th most common cause of cancer death in women. 23rd most common cause of cancer death overall.


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