About 150 women die needlessly every year in Hong Kong from cervical cancer, the Hong Kong Cancer Fund said yesterday, launching a campaign to encourage women to take smear tests. More than two-thirds of women in the SAR have never had a PAP smear test and many who do have tests do not have them regularly enough. Cervical cancer was the fourth most common form of cancer in Hong Kong after cancer of the breast, lung and colon, with 500 new cases each year, yet Hong Kong women knew little about the disease, the group said. It urged women to visit its Web site at www.cancer-fund.org for information. 'Every year 150 women in Hong Kong die needlessly from cervical cancer, yet unlike other cancers, this one is preventable,' said fund chairwoman Sally Lo. 'A five-minute PAP smear test can prevent a woman from getting cervical cancer because the test can detect the change of the cervix cells before the cancer starts.' PAP smears are highly recommended for women from the age of 18. The first two tests should be taken at one-year intervals, with a subsequent test every three years. Women can register their e-mail address on the fund's Web site and arrange a date for a test. On the chosen date, they will get an e-mail reminder, as well as the addresses of clinics where they can be tested. Fashion designer Lucy Shih Hei-yu, 36, said she started to have regular PAP smear tests 16 years ago when she went to study in London. 'They are more aware there, while people here are still a bit reserved to take that sort of test,' Ms Shih said. 'That even includes my mother. I had to push her to take a test this year.' Housewife Yuen Yuk-kuen, 38, said she was reluctant to take a test. 'My doctor said it would be painful, so I never took it.' But Dr Alexander Chang, chief of cytopathology at Prince of Wales Hospital, said the procedure should be painless. PAP smear tests are available at Sha Tin Community Clinic at Prince of Wales Hospital, which provides free tests, as well as Family Planning Association clinics and youth health centres, which charge about $110.