Body & Fitness

Tests for cervical cancer decreased to every 5 years

Medical experts are warning against the change.
Cervical smear test

A change in the way women are tested for cervical cancer in New Zealand has been called ‘wrong’ by medical professionals.

From 2018, the normal three-yearly cervical screening tests will be replaced, in favour of a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV) every five years.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman announced the change last week, saying it is expected to help reduce the number of deaths from cervical cancer in the country.

However a group of specialists published a strongly worded editorial in the New Zealand Medical Journal this month, saying the move was “premature and wrong.”

The authors have instead called for both forms of test to be used, warning that the change could cause great physical and psychological distress to women.

In New Zealand, women between the ages of 20 to 70 are recommended to have regular cervical smear tests.

But in the UK, women are only invited to have these between the ages of 25 to 64, something which has been criticised due to the number of under 25s being diagnosed with the disease.

Dr Coleman said that whilst New Zealand currently has one of the most successful cervical screening programmes in the world, there is still scope for it to improve further.

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