In this edition of the Turn The Corner newsletter, we hear from Dr Ambika Vohora about the importance of cervical screenings. Additionally, we talk about the Turn the Corner COVID swabbing clinic.
Cervical Screening Test: Three dreaded words for many of the women in Australia, but for me they bring nerdy excitement. Did you know that thanks to Australia’s cervical screening program, we are on track to eliminate cervical cancer by 2035?! We would be the first country to achieve this amazing milestone. Exciting, right?
Unfortunately, many women are overdue for their cervical screening as, let’s admit, it’s not exactly something we look forward to. A nationally representative survey of 1,000 women has found almost a third of women may delay or avoid cervical cancer screening because they find it “awkward”, and a quarter because they’re “embarrassed”. In Australia, 80 per cent of cervical cancers are found in women who are overdue for screening or have never been screened.
As a GP who is passionate about both preventative medicine and women’s health, these figures genuinely upset me. I am hoping to raise the issue in this newsletter to help demonstrate that a few minutes of “awkwardness” can help prevent the development of cervical cancer (and here at Turn The Corner we hope to make it as un-awkward as possible!).
In December 2017, Australia changed from the two-yearly Pap test to the new Cervical Screening Test. This is a more accurate test and is recommended from ages 25 to 74. We now test directly for the presence of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is a common infection that can go on to develop into cervical cancer. A negative result now means you repeat the test in five years, rather than two – great! Your GP will explain to you what happens next if HPV is detected. The process of performing the test is the same, however there is an option for a self-collect sample and you can chat with your GP about this to see if you are eligible and the pros and cons of this.
This is also a great opportunity to touch base about all things regarding women’s health – contraception, family planning, menopause, you name it!
Keep in mind that the Cervical Screening Test is just that, a screening test for otherwise well women. If you have any additional concerns about your health, you can raise them in a longer appointment that includes a Cervical Screening Test.
I hope this was helpful and now you are all as excited about cervical screening as I am!
Stay well, Dr Ambika.
If you’re due for your cervical screening, please head to the Turn The Corner website to make an appointment for a “Cervical Screening only” with one of our doctors or Nurse Petra. If you’d like to discuss another issue at the same time, please make sure to book a longer “Cervical Screening plus other issue” appointment.