Cervical Screening: What Wāhine Need to Know/Atawhaitia te Wharetangata

Cervical Screening: What Wāhine Need to Know/Atawhaitia te Wharetangata

HE Code: 
Pamphlet DLE
Publication date: 
1 December 2007
Revision date: 
January 2019
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Pamphlet promoting and explaining the benefits of regular cervical screening for women aged between 20 and 70.

He huarahi whakamaru mō te wharetangata, mō te iwi
A way of protection for the womb, and for the future of all

Me haere ngā wāhine katoa?
Who needs a smear test?

All women who have ever been sexually active are advised to have cervical screening every three years from the time they turn 20 until they turn 70.

Kia tūpato ki tēnei ngāngara
Be aware of HPV

  • Cervical cancer is caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is spread by sexual activity and affects almost all people at some point in their lives.
  • There are many types of HPV. Most HPV infections will clear up by themselves.
  • Only a few types of HPV will lead to abnormal, precancerous cells that could progress to cancer.
  • Cervical cancer usually takes many years to develop. Any abnormal cells can be found and treated to stop them from becoming cancer
  • Women who have received the HPV vaccine must continue with cervical screening.

Having regular cervical screening every three years is the best way of finding and treating abnormal cell changes and preventing cervical cancer from developing.

He pēhea te āhua o te whakamātautau?
What happens during the test?

Cervical screening only takes a few minutes. Some women find it a little uncomfortable, but it should not hurt.

A few cells will be collected from your cervix (the neck of the womb) and placed into a liquid solution that preserves the cells for testing. The test looks for abnormal cells. Any abnormal cells are treated to stop them from becoming cancer.

In some situations, women will also be offered an HPV test – which tests for the virus that may lead to cervical cancer. The HPV test is performed on the same sample as the cervical screening test, so there is no need to have a second test. 

If you change your address, please advise your smear taker, and the National Cervical Screening Programme, on freephone 0800 729 729 or email info@ncspregister.health.nz.

Mā wai e kawe ngā whakamātautau?
Who does the test?

The test can only be done by trained smear takers. You can find smear takers at:

  • Your nearest Whare Rapuora – Māori health centre
  • Other community health centres or women's health centres
  • Your GP clinic – there are many female GPs or practice nurses who do cervical screening
  • Family Planning clinics.

He aha te utu?
What does cervical screening cost?

You may be charged the usual fee from your doctor or nurse. Some Māori providers or community or primary health organisations offer a free or low cost service.

Ngā hua o te tirohanga
Your results

The majority of women will have normal results. Some women may be asked to go back for another test if there were not enough cells in the sample, or if there are changes. An abnormal result hardly ever means cancer.

The National Cervical Screening Programme

The programme aims to prevent cervical cancer. All women who have cervical screening are part of the programme unless they say that they do not want to be.

The benefits of recording cervical screening information include:

  • ready availability of records to you, your smear taker and the laboratory analysing your tests
  • automatic reminder letters if you are overdue for having a cervical screening test
  • checks to ensure the right follow-up after an abnormal screening test
  • planning for the needs of different ethnic groups.

The information collected by the programme is stored on a computer system called the NCSP Register, which is managed by the Ministry of Health.

Any woman can withdraw from the programme at any time by filling in a form or by writing to the programme. When you withdraw, any cervical screening tests recorded on the register will be deleted and future tests are not recorded

Kia mōhio noa iho koe
Just so you know

Cervical screening is the best way of showing cell changes in the cervix.

Cervical screening, like all screening, is not 100% effective and some women will still develop cervical cancer despite regular screening. While the risk of cervical cancer can be reduced, it cannot be eliminated by screening. Other tests, eg, testing for HPV may be used to help decide when treatment is necessary. 

Me maumahara

If you have any unusual vaginal bleeding, pain or discharge see your doctor or nurse.

He huarahi whakamaru mō te wharetangata, mō te iwi
A way of protection for the womb, and for the future of all

He kōrero nui whakahirahira
Important message

  • Women aged from 20 until they turn 70 who have at any time been sexually active, need three yearly cervical screening.
  • Regular three yearly cervical screening tests are the best protection against cervical cancer.
  • Regular cervical screening save lives!

Mō ētahi atu kōrero
For further information