The Cancer Council’s Girls Night In
Women generally don’t need much of an excuse to get together but the annual Girls Night In makes a catch-up even more meaningful. Organised by the Cancer Council, Australia’s largest independent funder of cancer research, the event highlights women’s health throughout the month of October. All you need to do is pick a date, time and venue for your event and invite your guests.
Here are three important topics to discuss during your Girls Night In:
1. Prevention and screening
Talk about women’s health issues and encourage female friends and family members to get screened or see a GP if they notice changes to their bodies. Sometimes it’s easy to procrastinate when it comes to Pap smears and breast screenings, but as the Cancer Council says, “friends don’t let friends go unchecked”.
It says women aged 50-74 should have a free mammogram every two years via the BreastScreen Australia program. Cervical screenings are recommended for women between 18 and 70 who’ve been sexually active. A new HPV test for women aged 25-74 will be introduced later this year to replace the current two-yearly pap test – see breakout box below for more info.
2. Know the symptoms for women’s cancers that do not have a screening program
The Cancer Council says ovarian cancer symptoms include abdominal bloating; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; frequent or urgent urination; back, abdominal or pelvic pain; constipation; menstrual irregularities; fatigue; indigestion; and pain during sexual intercourse.
Not feeling quite right? Trust your gut and speak to a GP.
3. Cancer Council’s support services
Anyone can call the Cancer Council’s confidential information and support service on 13 11 20, from people living with cancer, their families, carers and friends, to people wanting to reduce their cancer risk. It’s available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Where do the funds go?
The Cancer Council is Australia’s largest independent funder of cancer research. As a charity, it relies heavily on the generosity of supporters to really make a difference. In 2015, research grants through Cancer Councils totalled more than $70.5 million. The non-profit also advocates for the rights of cancer patients for best treatment and supportive care, and provides valuable information and tireless support for anyone affected by cancer.
End of an era for Pap smears
Based on better technology and new evidence, the National Cervical Screening Program will change from 1 December 2017 to improve early detection and save more lives.
That means an end to the two yearly Pap test for women aged 18 to 69, which will be replaced with a five yearly human papillomavirus (HPV) test for women aged 25 to 74. Women will be due for the first Cervical Screening Test two years after their last Pap test. The changes include:
• Women will be invited when they are due to participate via the National Cancer Screening Register
• The Pap smear will be replaced with the more accurate Cervical Screening Test
• The time between tests will change from two to five years
• The age at which screening starts will increase from 18 years to 25 years
• Women aged 70 to 74 years will be invited to have an exit test
For more information call the hotline on 13 15 56.