Women shunning mammograms and pap smears: bureau

Staff writer, with CNA

Tue, Mar 12, 2013 - Page 4

Despite evidence that regular screening can lead to early detection of breast and cervical cancers, many women in Taiwan do not go for regular tests, the Bureau of Health Promotion said yesterday, citing a survey.

Women in the age group for which regular screening is advised are usually too afraid, too busy or too shy to have the tests done, the bureau said, adding that more than 1 million women in Taiwan fall in that age bracket.

Younger women are even more reluctant to be screened for breast and cervical cancer, the bureau said.

Fewer women in the 30-34 age group tend to have pap smears than older women, the survey found.

Meanwhile, only about 32 percent of women in Taiwan over the age of 45 have regular mammograms, according to the poll.

However, a health campaign that has been in effect for 19 years has helped to improve the screening rate year by year, the bureau said.

The campaign, sponsored jointly by the bureau, Procter & Gamble, the Breast Cancer Foundation and the Hope Foundation for Cancer Care, urges women to have regular pap-smear tests.

The cervical cancer test rate by means of pap smears rose from 35 percent in 1997 to 56.6 percent last year among Taiwanese women, according to the latest statistics from the bureau.

Meanwhile, the rate of breast screening by mammograms increased from 11.8 percent in 2009 to 32.5 percent last year, the figures showed.

Cheng Wen-fang (鄭文芳), a doctor at National Taiwan University Hospital, said that among more than 80,000 Taiwanese women over 40 who waited for more than 10 years to go for a pap smear, 2 percent were found to have cancer or precancerous lesions.

Meanwhile, of the 1.6 million women over 30 and who had regular pap smears, only 0.5 percent were found to have cancer or precancerous lesions, he added.