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The number of women taking advantage of cervical screening is up again, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The two-year participation in 2006-2007 was just over 61% in the target group of women aged 20-69 years.

'This is the highest it has been since it peaked at about 63% in 1998-1999,' said Dr Alison Budd of the AIHW's Health Registers and Cancer Monitoring Unit.

While the recommended screening interval in Australia is two years, it is useful to also measure participation over periods longer than two years.

The three-year participation rate was 74%, and the five-year participation rate was over 86%.

'These figures indicate that, while some women are being screened at intervals greater than the recommend two years, the Australian screening program compares well to international cervical screening programs,' Dr Budd said.

According to the report, Cervical screening in Australia 2006-2007, over three and a half million women aged 20-69 years participated in cervical screening in Australia in 2006-2007.

'Higher participation means that more pre-cancerous abnormalities can be detected and managed before they become cervical cancer,' she said.

The number of new cases of cervical cancer have almost halved, falling from 13 per 100,000 since the screening program started in 1991, to 7 per 100,000 in 2005.

Other encouraging news is that mortality rates have more than halved from 4 deaths per 100,000 in 1991, to just under 2 per 100,000 in 2006.

Thursday 2 April 2009

Further information: Dr Alison Budd, 02 6244 1023, mob. 0418 271 395.

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1032.

Availability: Check the AIHW Publications area for the availability of Cervical screening in Australia 2006-2007.