Cervical cancer has a greater impact on Aboriginal women than non-Aboriginal women. The cervical cancer incidence rate is 2 times higher for Aboriginal women, and the cervical cancer mortality rate is 3.7 times higher for Aboriginal women compared to non-Aboriginal women (AIHW, 2021)1. This is most likely due to both lower participation in screening and later presentation of symptoms to health care providers, leading to poorer outcomes.
The Cancer Institute NSW works in collaboration with the NSW Aboriginal Cervical Screening Network to increase the participation rates of Aboriginal women in cervical screening.
There are many ways for health professionals to successfully deliver and/or promote cervical screening to Aboriginal women in their local area. The NSW Aboriginal Cervical Screening Network has collated information about health promotion activities that have proven successful in their local areas.
Who should participate in cervical screening?
These health promotion activities target Aboriginal people with a cervix aged 25-74 who have ever been sexually active.
The Institute uses the term ‘Aboriginal women’ to describe those eligible to participate in cervical screening, however all health promotion activities should be inclusive and sensitive, as it is important for everyone with a cervix to participate in cervical screening (whether or not they identify as female).
Before planning health promotion activities, identify which Aboriginal women are overdue for a Cervical Screening Test or have never had a Cervical Screening Test (i.e. underscreened and never screened women):
- Health professionals who work in or alongside a clinical setting can find out which women are overdue for a Cervical Screening Test.
- Health workers, health promotion officers and those who do not work in a clinical setting can partner with staff in a nearby clinic to assess who is eligible.
Cervical screening activities
Health professionals may undertake one or more activities to reach as many Aboriginal women as possible in the local area.
1. Activities to promote cervical screening to Aboriginal women
Once women have better knowledge and awareness of cervical screening they may feel more empowered to go for a Cervical Screening Test.