With alarming statistics showing that almost half of all Australian women do not have regular pap smears, the message from this year's Cervical Cancer Awareness Week is 'Are You Up To Date?'
According to the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation, regular screening via pap smears can detect low-grade abnormalities in around 100,000 women each year. More than 30,000 high-grade abnormalities are also detected.
Joe Tooma, chief executive of the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation told The Huffington Post Australia about two million Australian women are not having regular tests.
"There are several reasons why women put off getting a pap smear; they see it as inconvenient, or they see it as being uncomfortable. Others find it embarrassing to be having a pap smear. But if you're a woman aged between 18 and 70 and have ever been sexually active, you need to ask yourself: are you up to date with cervical screening?" Tooma said.
"Women in Australia are able to be screened every two years but 43 percent do not go regularly, or they don't go at all."
Athlete and medical student Jana Pittman is the Ambassador for Cervical Cancer Awareness Week and wants to spread the word that women owe it to themselves to keep up to date with cervical screening. Pittman told HuffPost Australia she wants to help make a difference.
"I personally have had CNIII cervical dysplasia, have watched friends go through treatment with advanced cancer and unfortunately now, as a medical student, have watched women lose their battle to it. My career in sport is now finishing, as I turn my future towards medicine, with the plan of becoming a gynaecologist," Pittman said.
"All our lives are precious and keeping up to date with our pap smears can ensure your health won't be affected by a cancer that can often be easily screened for and treated with our two-yearly pap smears. No woman loves the process, it can be uncomfortable and we often put it on the 'get to' list with many reasons bumping it down."
"We have to spread the word that the minor discomfort and little time required could save your life. We are all in this together to reduce the rates of women suffering, lets speak more openly, share the word, encourage your friends to ensure we are a step ahead."