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Self-tests making cervical screening even easier in Mount Isa

Self-tests making cervical screening even easier in Mount Isa

2023-09-19 09:43:34

Self-tests making cervical screening even easier in Mount Isa

19th September 2023

The Mount Isa Sexual Health team is encouraging the community to prioritise their cervical health by making the most of the accessible and convenient option of self-testing.

Cervical screening, previously referred to as pap smear, is a crucial preventative measure that aids in the early detection of cervical cancer, and the addition of self-testing enhances accessibility and ensures that every individual can prioritise their health without unnecessary barriers.

Kelly Wainwright, Nurse Unit Manager at Mount Isa Sexual Health, said self-collection gives people the flexibility to collect their own vaginal sample in a private space, making the process even easier.

“We understand that some individuals may find traditional cervical screening methods uncomfortable or inconvenient. By encouraging self-testing, we hope to reach more women and provide them with a convenient and accessible option for regular cervical health screening,” she said.

Over 50 per cent of people living in remote areas of Queensland have favoured a self-collect method of testing. 24.1 per cent of cervical screening tests have been self-collected in the North West, a steady incline since the self-collection option was introduced.

The team are hoping to see the numbers continue to increase, reflecting more people regularly having a cervical screening.

While a Cervical Screening Test should be done every five years for women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 74 years who have ever been sexually active, Queensland Health research showed that many people were not aware they should get tested.

The test detects human papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause cell changes that may progress to cervical cancer if left untreated. The choice of having a clinician taken sample is also still an option. For people with previous abnormal cervical screens, unusual symptoms or those who have a positive HPV result, a clinician-taken swab and further management may be necessary.

Because cervical cancer can take up to 10-15 years to develop, the early detection of HPV and cell changes means it may be possible to prevent HPV infection developing into cervical cancer.

“Many people may not have kept their routine screening appointments during the pandemic, so now is the time to catch up if you have delayed your cervical screening,” Ms. Wainwright said.

If you have any questions or concerns, or are interested in self-collection for cervical screening, you should talk to your healthcare provider to help you decide what is best for you. The Mount Isa Sexual Health Clinic can also be contacted on 4764 0200.