National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week is November 16 to 22.
Cervical Cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Most cervical cancers can be prevented by screening regularly. All women aged 25 - 74 should screen every 5 years.
This is Gina’s story:
“I visited my doctor today and during my appointment she told me that it has been over four years since my last Pap test. She said that I should have the new ‘Cervical Screening Test’ (CST). I didn’t know what the difference was.
"My doctor explained that the old has been replaced by the new CST that looks for the virus that causes most Cervical Cancers - the Human papillomavirus (HPV).
"I’d never heard of HPV. My doctor said that most women and men will have had HPV at some time in their lives, and it is so common that it is a normal part of ever being sexually active. Over 90 per cent of cervical cancers are caused by HPV.
"I asked how the new CST is done. She said it is taken the same way as a Pap test and I won’t notice anything different. I said that was a shame - I always hated Pap tests and really wished there was a new way of doing it!
"My doctor then said because I am over 30 and it has been more than four years since my last test I now had the option to collect my own sample. I have to be honest, this sounded a little scary, but it turns out a self-collected sample is easier than inserting a tampon.
"My doctor explained that if HPV was found on my self-collected sample we would discuss the results together because it meant I would benefit from having more tests done to see if there were any changes in my cervix.
"But the best news was if my self-collected sample did not detect HPV, then I could wait 5 years before having another test!
"I chose to do the self-collection. The doctor gave me the swab and told me how to collect the sample. I went behind the curtain, collected my sample, and handed it to her. It felt so easy and was done in one minute! I highly recommend talking to your doctor about whether you are eligible for self-collection.”
Did you know that 80 per cent of cervical cancers are found in women who have never screened or are overdue for a screen? If this is you, discuss self-collection with your doctor.
For more information visit www.health.tas.gov.au/cancerscreening or phone 13 15 56.
- Contributed by: Tasmanian Health Service, Population Screening and Cancer Prevention