Christine Walters talks about her battle with cancer in the hopes local women will have regular cervical screening. She is pictured with her daughter Mia.
Christine Walters talks about her battle with cancer in the hopes local women will have regular cervical screening. She is pictured with her daughter Mia. Vicki Wood

Christine's life-saving message for Gympie women

CHRISTINE Walters has a message for the thousands of local women at risk of dying from a preventable cancer.

She wants you to take part in Australia's cervical cancer screening program.

Federal health data shows almost half of female residents of our region are missing out on the vital cervical cancer screening test.

Just 51.2 per cent of Gympie women were tested in 2015-16, recently released Federal Health data shows.

The issue is particularly close to Christine's heart as doctors have told her she is likely to die from the disease.

"I was as fit as I've ever been, I was walking up mountains with my newborn daughter," Christine said.

"The only thing that was wrong was I would have odd bleeding," she said.

After being diagnosed, Christine was told the cancer had spread to surrounding tissue that was impossible to remove.

"They said our only option as to have really hard and fast chemo and radiation," the former teacher said.

Sadly the treatment did not eradicate the cancer and it has now spread further.

"There is nothing they can do apart from keep me alive as long as possible," Christine said.

Women who are aged 25 and over should be tested every five years.

Australian girls and boys are given vaccinations against the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer in women and throat cancer in men.

But adult women still need to have regular cervical screening tests to track any changes in the cells of their uterine cervix.

Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation chief executive Joe Tooma said cervical cancer was the fourth most common female cancer and it was "entirely preventable".

"The problem we have is that women are not taking the steps they need to take to make sure it is prevented," Mr Tooma said.

"The first is to make sure you are up to date with your cervical screening.

"The new way we test for HPV is much more accurate and they can identify HPV much earlier than in the past."

If there is no HPV present you don't come back for five years, Mr Tooma said.

If HPV and abnormalities are found, that can be treated straight away using freezing of the affected tissue.

The ACCF has a service to help women keep track of screening dates. Visit accf.org.au/getthetext for details.

 

Immunologist and former Australian of the Year, Ian Frazer
Immunologist and former Australian of the Year, Ian Frazer

Cancer could be wiped out in decades

PROFESSOR Ian Frazer is the creator of multiple vaccines for the prevention and treatment of cervical cancer.

The University of Queensland clinical scientist leads a research team dedicated to wiping out the disease - and the good news is it could be gone in the next 10 years.

The disease kills about 80 women a year in Australia.

"We anticipate that by the end of the 2020s, cervical cancer will have fallen below the threshold where it is counted as a common cancer and it will become a rare cancer," Prof Frazer said.

"By the end of 2030, it is anticipated that the only cases of cervical cancer in this country will be the women who have missed out on the screening program."

Professor Frazer said the groups most at risk in 30 years will be women living in rural and remote regions, indigenous women and migrant women who have come to Australia from a country where there are limited screening options.

Women who are aged 25 and over should be tested every five years.

"The women who get the cancer get it early in life," Prof Frazer said.

"The important thing is to realise this is not a test to see if you have cancer - it is a test to tell you if you are at risk of getting cancer.

"A positive test gives you the chance to have something done about it." - NewsRegional

The risk factors associated with cervical cancer are:

  • Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Smoking.
  • Weak immune system.
  • Family history.
  • Exposure to the synthetic form of estrogen called diethylstilbestrol.
  • Lack of regular cervical screening tests.

Symptoms of cervical cancer are:

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods or after menopause.
  • Pain during intercourse.
  • Excessive tiredness.
  • Lower back pain.
  • Bleeding after intercourse.
  • Unusual vaginal discharge.
  • Leg pain or swelling.

Source: Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation

News Corp Australia


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