A DIY collection 

A NEW take-your-own sample option for cervical screening will hopefully boost participation rates in low take-up groups, says the WA Cancer Council.

West Australians can now take their own vaginal sample, instead of it being done by a clinician, and drop it off for testing.

The ‘self-collection’ option is accessed through a healthcare provider and the WA Cancer Council is hoping it will boost cervical screening participation rates.

Cancer Council WA education manager Melissa Treby says in the past people have been discouraged from doing their five-yearly cervical screening test because of cultural and personal barriers.

Groups less likely to screen include Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people who identify as LGBTIQ+, people with disabilities, those who have experienced sexual violence, post-menopausal women and people who have had previous negative cervical screening experiences.

“Currently around 64 per cent of West Australians eligible to participate are up to date with their screening, but some priority populations have higher numbers of people who have either never screened or who do not screen regularly,” Ms Treby says.

Cervical screening tests can prevent the development of cervical cancer by detecting the human papillomavirus (HPV) early before it has the chance to cause cell changes which may lead to cervical cancer.

“We know one of the best ways to prevent cervical cancer is regular screening. Most people who develop cervical cancer have either never screened or do not screen regularly,” Ms Treby says.

“People now have the choice to collect their own sample to test for the HPV virus or can opt for the clinician collected sample.

“Both options are accurate, safe and effective ways to participate in cervical screening, so we encourage women and people with a cervix aged 25-74 to talk to their healthcare provider about which option is best for them.”

Recent evidence demonstrates a cervical screening test using a self-collected vaginal sample is as accurate as a clinician-collected sample taken from the cervix during a speculum examination, states the WA Cancer Council website.

Women should get a cervical screening test every five years if they are aged between 25 and 74 and have had any type of sexual contact with any person, even of the same gender.

Women should get a test even if they have had the HPV vaccines, are not currently sexually active, have had the same partner for a long time or only had one partner, identify as LGBTIQ+, are pregnant, have been through menopause, or feel healthy and have no symptoms.

For more info visit atyourcervix.org.au

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