One of the most important things you can do for your health as a woman is keep up to date with the health of your cervix. Obstetrician, Dr Briohny Hutchinson, shares what’s the latest in keeping your cervix healthy.
Cervical cancer is preventable with regular screening offering the best chance to avoid it. In December 2017, the Pap Test was replaced with the new Cervical Screening Test. This test is more accurate and only performed every 5 years unless indicated earlier.
The Cervical Screening Test will feel the same as the pap test but instead of checking for abnormal cells it screens for the presence of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause changes in the cell. HPV is a common virus, which if persistent over 10-15 years, can develop into cervical cancer. By screening for HPV, the Cervical Screening Test is predicted to prevent 30% more cases of cervical cancer.
All women, between the ages 25 to 74 years old, who have ever been sexually active, including those women in same sex relationships should have a Cervical Screening Test. This includes women who have previously been vaccinated for HPV.
Screening commences at 25 years of age with the new Cervical Screening Test as compared to 18 years of age with the pap test. This change is because most women under the age of 25 have been previously vaccinated, will easily clear a HPV infection and cervical cancer in this age group is rare.
When you are next due for a pap smear your GP or Obstetrician/Gynaecologist will perform the Cervical Screening Test. If this is normal it will be repeated every 5 years. It is important that if you have abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain or discharge prior to this time that you arrange an earlier review.
Information in this article is obtained from the National Cervical Screening Program guidelines: Web based and brochures
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