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'Smear your mea' - cervical cancer survivor launches campaign for more Kiwi women to get checked

A cervical cancer survivor has started her own campaign to get more Kiwi women to have smear tests.

New research out of the UK found a third of young women aren't getting tested because they're too embarrassed. Source: 1 NEWS

Talei Morrison's move comes as new research out of the UK found a third of young women aren't getting tested because they're too embarrassed.

The survey of 2000 women found cervical cancer screening rates have fallen there to a 20-year low.

Ms Morrison, a kapa haka performer, was diagnosed with cervical cancer last year and is now encouraging friends to get checked.

"I had the attitude that nothing like this would never happen to me," she said.

Now her hashtag 'Smear your Mea - or 'thing' in Maori - has spread as a message to all Kiwi women.

"It is an intimate, intrusive procedure. It's scary. And here we have the attitude of 'she'll be right'," Ms Morrison said. 

It's really hard for some women because, you know, the thought of it is just dreadful - Christchurch-based doctor Sue Bagshaw

In New Zealand, about 160 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, and around 50 of those will die.

Christchurch-based doctor Sue Bagshaw says women's nervousness about having a smear test is a problem in New Zealand too. 

"It's really hard for some women because, you know, the thought of it is just dreadful when you think about it. Ew, somebody putting something up my vagina? So you can imagine why people get put off," Dr Bagshaw said. 

Smear tests can detect if there are abnormal cells before they turn to cancer.

Dr Bagshaw says having them regularly is crucial.

"I knew one pathologist who said, 'next to stopping smoking this is the most effective health thing you can do'." 

A smear test is a quick trip to the doctor that could save your life.