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A recent study titled Cervical cancer in Indigenous women: the case of Australia, found that Indigenous women have 2 to 5 times higher age standardised incidences and have a 3 to 18 times higher death rate from cervical cancer. According to the Western Australian Cancer Registry, there have been 19 incidences of cervical cancer and 15 deaths in WA from 2005 to 2009.
One of the main reasons for these high figures is attributed to poor screening amongst Indigenous women, compared with about half to two-thirds the cervical screening participation of non-Indigenous Australian women. The WA cervical cancer prevention program's (WACCPP) program manager Nerida Steel remarked that 'there is a sensitivity in discussing the topic in Aboriginal communities, embarrassment, anxiety or fear about the procedure,' and that 'difficulty in accessing services, for example: transport; a lack of a female GP, trained pap smear provider or trained female Aboriginal Health Workers are also issues.' She also stated that the WACCPP is committed to developing culturally safe and appropriate strategies to increase participation of cervical screenings among Aboriginal women in Western Australian communities, such as employing full-time Aboriginal Health Promotion Officers to liaise with both metropolitan and rural Indigenous women, and holding culturally appropriate education sessions for Indigenous women and health professionals.
WA cervical cancer prevention program
233 Adelaide Terrace
Perth WA 6000
Ph: 13 15 56 (cost of a local call)
Ph: (08) 9323 6788
Fax: (08) 9323 6711