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Monday, 16 June 2003
Page: 16378


Mrs HULL (1:43 PM) —I would like to begin today by quoting a number of comments from a woman who was diagnosed with cervical cancer, as it raises the importance of education for women in preventing the incidence of this disease. Christine says:

Many women don't understand exactly what a Pap smear is—that it's actually aiming to detect something that's pre-cancerous and stop it from becoming cancer. I don't think I knew that before I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Christine is referring to the barriers that prevent many women from having a pap smear. She goes on to say:

As a member of a cervical cancer support group, I'm aware of all the barriers against women screening, but I've also seen the devastating impact this largely preventable disease has on women and their families.

Christine further states:

Women tend not to go to the doctor unless they are sick and yet the pap smear is a well woman's test. It is a big shift in mind-set going to see a doctor to prevent getting sick one day. I know that some women with young children go to the doctor and they think, “I've got the kids with me, so I'll have a Pap smear next time I come.” But next time never comes.

The aim of the National Cervical Screening Program is to reduce the incidence of and death from cervical cancer with a more organised approach to cervical screening. The national policy provides a set of guidelines on who needs to be screened and how often women should have a pap smear. These guidelines have helped enormously to increase the number of women being screened and to reduce the mortality rate of cervical cancer. The guidelines have also assisted in the education of women concerning this disease. This was the eighth most common cancer in women, as has been noted here. It has dropped to the fourteenth most common cancer in women, but it still remains largely misunderstood.


The SPEAKER —Order! It being 1.45 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 106A. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the member for Riverina will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.