Our new PapScreen campaign Peace of mind was launched with great fanfare and lots of mini-quiches last week - watch it here! You like the new PapScreen website too you say? Very kind! But seriously, we welcome any feedback about the advert and the website, positive or (gulp) negative.
At the launch, we released new stats showing one in two young Aussie women are not having Pap tests every two years as recommended. So essentially either you, or your best mate: officially not screening. If you're aged 20-29 that is, and you have a best mate ... I'm sure you do.
But older women don't get off scot free either - at the launch we also revealed the latest Victorian screening stats for women aged 20-69 and the results were pretty shocking. Only 61.3% are having regular Pap tests, the lowest number in a decade. So one of you, your best mate and your sister: not screening.
I've been working at PapScreen for almost a year now, but I still find it hard to believe that well over a third of women don't go for Pap tests.
I thought everyone (women, obviously) just WENT for Pap tests every two years. To be honest, I don't I think I knew why I went for them, or even how I found out I should - my Mum certainly didn't tell me ... thanks Mum!
I just did.
So why is it that so many women don't?
I mean: take time out of your busy day, blush furiously as you tell the doctor or nurse you'd like a Pap test, strip halfway down in front of a stranger, assume a very compromising position, then have a dab of your cells taken out and whisked off to a lab where perfect strangers look at a tiny piece of your insides very closely through a microscope.
Don't all rush at once.
I think the best - maybe only - way to deal with the whole thing is by retaining an extremely healthy (as healthy as your cervix will be) sense of humour. It's just one of the many awkward things woman have to do - skirt-tucked-inside-underwear incidents, buying tampons from spotty male youths ... the list goes on.
Practising your humour maintenance aside, there are some extremely good reasons why every women should put booking a Pap test at the top of their to-do list if they're overdue:
1. Almost 90% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer in Victoria either never had a Pap test, or had not had Pap tests regularly before being diagnosed. I'm no statistician, but we can assume that this percentage would roughly apply Australia-wide.
2. It's one of the very few cancers that can be pretty much prevented (Pap tests can prevent around 9 in 10 cervical cancers). Having Pap tests allows women to take control of their bodies and say with a large degree of certainty that "cervical cancer will not happen to me".
In short, women should be flocking in their droves every two years to take advantage of this test, one of the great discoveries benefiting the fairer sex - which was, incidentally, tried and tested by a Greek doctor (Dr Papanicolaou) in the early twentieth century on his long-suffering wife, who manfully (or womanfully) allowed him to try out his prototype ‘Pap test' on her almost EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR 20 YEARS.
Now there's a woman with a sense of humour.
I'll leave you with a line from our new ad, in the hope that it - and this blog - will mean you pick up the phone to book that test if you're overdue.
Every women, every 2 years. Pap tests - a little awkward for a lot of peace of mind.
Have you seen the new ad? Are there things you do that are equally as awkward but you barely think about?
Thank you to everyone for their comments. This blog post is now closed.