One of the best ways you can protect yourself from developing cervical cancer is by having a Cervical Screening Test just once every five years.
In fact, cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers.
The virus that causes almost all cases, the Human Papillomavirus, can be detected with a Cervical Screening Test.
The Human Papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is a common infection. Most people don’t even realise they have it, and it usually clears up on its own.
Sometimes, if it doesn’t clear up, an HPV infection can cause cell changes in the cervix which can develop into cancer.
These changes can be monitored or treated if HPV is detected early with a Cervical Screening Test.
Over 70 per cent of people who get cervical cancer in Australia have never been screened, or haven’t been screened regularly.
So your best protection is to have regular Cervical Screening Tests – even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine. The vaccine protects against some – but not all – types of HPV that can lead to cervical cancer.
To get a Cervical Screening Test, you’ll need to make an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Lots of people go to their doctor for their appointment, but there are also other options, like women’s health clinics, family planning clinics and Aboriginal Medical Services.
You have two options when it comes to collecting a sample for your Cervical Screening Test.
Your first option is for your healthcare provider to do it for you using a speculum and a brush.
Your second option is to do it yourself using a simple swab. This is called self-collection, and it’s available to most people due for their Cervical Screening Test.
If you choose to self-collect, you’ll have support from your healthcare provider to make sure you understand what to do, that you feel safe and comfortable, and that you have enough privacy.
Talk to your healthcare provider about which option is best for you. Both are a safe and accurate way to test for HPV. Your sample will be sent to a lab so they can test it for HPV. If they don’t find HPV, your next Cervical Screening Test will be due in five years.
If your test results show HPV, your healthcare provider will let you know. They’ll ask you to come back to see them or a specialist, which will involve having further tests.
This is the best way to prevent cancer from developing.
So, is it time for you to book your Cervical Screening Test appointment?
- If you’re a woman or a person with a cervix
- If you’re between 25 and 74
- If you’ve ever had any type of sexual activity
- And even if you’ve had the HPV vaccine…
Then you should have your Cervical Screening Test every five years to protect yourself from cervical cancer.
The National Cancer Screening Register will send you a reminder letter when you are due to screen. You can also ask your healthcare provider when you’re due or you can check the Register through your MyGov account.
Check out www.health.gov.au/ncsp for more information about the National Cervical Screening Program.