Higher pap smear rate needed for Indigenous women
Despite a dramatic fall in deaths from cervical cancer in women from developed countries over the past 50 years, the disease is still the number one cause of cancer death among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australia, according the current issue of the Medical Journal of Australia. The risk of death from cervical cancer is 10 times higher in these women than in non-Indigenous women.
Dr Michael Coory, a Queensland Health epidemiologist, and colleagues analysed Pap smear data on women from 13 rural and remote Indigenous communities in Queensland. They found that the rate of participation in cervical screening is significantly lower for Indigenous women than for non-Indigenous women. On average, about 41% of women living in Indigenous communities have Pap smears every two years (compared with around 59% in the rest of Queensland), with testing rates for women from some communities as low as 20%.