30 November, 2017

Cervical Screening Changes – the Pap Smear is being Replaced

Almost all cases of cervical cancer are preventable. And yet, every year 800 Australian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer with 250 deaths from the disease. 80% of those diagnosed with cervical cancer have never been screened or do not have screening at the recommended intervals. By simply ensuring you are up to date with your cervical cancer screening your risk is significantly reduced…

The process for cervical screening in Australia is changing as of the 1st of December 2017. The new Cervical Screening Test is an improved version of the current pap smear that aims to increase prevention through even earlier detection of the precursors of the disease.

The procedure for the new test looks and feels the same as the Pap test. It will still involve a speculum examination and a sample of cells will be taken and sent to the laboratory.

The old Pap test looks at the cells of the cervix for cancerous or pre-cancerous changes. Whereas, the new Cervical Screening Test will look for the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV), the main trigger for abnormal cervical cells.

More than 99% of cervical cancers are caused by HPV. But not everyone with HPV will develop cervical cancer. HPV is an extremely common virus transmitted through sexual activity. You can also go to this web-site to get help to prevent this disease at home itself before it becomes a serious one. Most people are infected with at least one strain of HPV at some point in their lifetime without ever knowing it. Often our immune system will clear the virus spontaneously. However, if the virus persists, it can cause cell changes that can eventually evolve into cervical cancer.

The new Cervical Screening Test is specifically looking for the presence of HPV,  and can therefore identify those women at higher risk of cervical problems.

The HPV or Gardasil vaccine protects against some HPV strains. However, there are some HPV strains that the vaccine does not protect against and therefore, even if you have had the cervical cancer vaccine, you still need to have regular Cervical Screening Tests.

At Airlie Women’s Clinic, we aim to ensure all our patients are up to date with cervical screening. If you have any questions about these changes please feel free to discuss these with your doctor at your next appointment.