Cervical abnormalities are more common among Indigenous than other Australian women: A retrospective record-linkage study, 2000-2011

Lisa Whop, Peter Baade, Gail Garvey, Joan Cunningham, Julia Brotherton, Kamalini Lokuge, Patricia Valery, Dianne L. O'Connell, Karen Canfell, Abbey Diaz, David Roder, DM Gertig, Suzanne Moore, John Condon

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Indigenous Australian women have much higher incidence of cervical cancer compared to non-Indigenous women. Despite an organised cervical screening program introduced 25 years ago, a paucity of Indigenous-identified data in Pap Smear Registers remains. Prevalence of cervical abnormalities detected among the screened Indigenous population has not previously been reported. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of populationbased linked health records for 1,334,795 female Queensland residents aged 20-69 years who had one or more Pap smears during 2000-2011; from linked hospital records 23,483 were identified as Indigenous. Prevalence was calculated separately for Indigenous and non-Indigenous women, for cytology-detected low-grade (cLGA) and highgrade abnormalities (cHGA), and histologically confirmed high-grade abnormalities (hHGA). Odds ratios (OR) were estimated from logistic regression analysis. In 2010-2011 the prevalence of hHGA among Indigenous women (16.6 per 1000 women screened, 95% confidence interval [CI] 14.6-18.9) was twice that of non-Indigenous women (7.5 per 1000 women screened, CI 7.3-7.7). Adjusted for age, area-level disadvantage and place of residence, Indigenous women had higher prevalence of cLGA (OR 1.4, CI 1.3-1.4), cHGA (OR 2.2, CI 2.1-2.3) and hHGA (OR 2.0, CI 1.9-2.1). Our findings show that Indigenous women recorded on the Pap Smear Register have much higher prevalence for cLGA, cHGA and hHGA compared to non-Indigenous women. The renewed cervical screening program, to be implemented in 2017, offers opportunities to reduce the burden of abnormalities and invasive cancer among Indigenous women and address long-standing data deficiencies.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0150473
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS One
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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