A report by the national Cervical Screening in Australia has found that many South Australian women are dying from cervical cancer despite having regular screenings through pap smears. The report said 81 SA women died of cervical cancer during 2001-04 more than the 66 in 1997-2000.
In the 85 and older age group the death rate was highest with 15 deaths during the period. Professor David Roder, from The Cancer Council SA, said that many women who died from the cancer had not had a pap smear in the two-year interval.
"Since 1990, the cervical cancer death rate in SA has fallen by 40 per cent and the report's small increase is disappointing," Professor Roder said. "We are not sure whether it will firm up into a sustainable trend or if it's just a random fluctuation at this point. But we have to get better coverage of pap testing to women difficult to reach such as those from poorer, remote areas and indigenous communities."
He added that cervical cancer was one of the most curable and preventable cancers if found early. SA Cervix Screening Unit manager Bernadette Kenny said women are risking their lives by not getting regular screenings. "More than 90 per cent of cervix cancers are preventable with regular screening which makes early intervention absolutely crucial," she said.