Cervical Screening

Cervical Screening

The Cervical Screening Test is an important preventive screening tool used in Australia to detect early changes in the cervix that may lead to cervical cancer. It is recommended for women aged 25 to 74 years, and should be conducted every 5 years (or 2 years after your last Pap test).


Cervical Screening

The Primary Purpose

The primary purpose of the Cervical Screening Test is to detect the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) – a cancer-causing infection – and identify any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

By identifying these changes early on, appropriate interventions can be initiated to prevent the development of cervical cancer.

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The Procedure

The Cervical Screening Test is a relatively quick and straightforward procedure performed by a trained healthcare professional. Firstly, the healthcare provider gently inserts a speculum into the vagina to visualise the cervix. Using a specialised brush or spatula, they will then collect a small sample of cells from the surface of the cervix. The sample is then placed in a vial and sent to the laboratory for testing.

Self-Collection for the Cervical Screen Test

All participants in the cervical screening program now have the choice to self-collect their own Cervical Screening Test. Evidence shows that a self-collected sample from the vagina is just as accurate at detecting HPV as a practitioner-collected cervical sample during an examination. Make an appointment with one of our doctors to check your eligibility and whether self-collection is the right option for you

Benefits of the Cervical Screening Test

The Cervical Screening Test brings several benefits when compared to previous screening methods, including:

  • Increased accuracy: The Cervical Screening Test is more accurate than the previous Pap test at detecting high-risk HPV strains.
  • Longer screening intervals: This test is conducted every five years for women aged 25 to 74, allowing for less frequent testing.
  • Prevention through vaccination: The Cervical Screening Test is an important complement to HPV vaccination programs, which provide protection against several high-risk HPV types. A combined approach of vaccination and screening brings greater protection.



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Possible Side Effects or Discomfort

The Cervical Screening Test is a safe and generally well-tolerated procedure. Some women may experience mild discomfort or cramping during the collection of the cervical sample, but it should not cause severe pain. It is common to have light spotting or discharge following the test, which usually resolves within a day or two.

What's next?

Cervical Screening Results

If your Cervical Screening Test result is negative, it means that no abnormal changes or high-risk HPV were detected in your cervical cells. This is excellent news and indicates that your risk of developing cervical cancer is low. You are advised to have your next test in five years, as long as you remain within the recommended age range (25 to 74 years).

If your result is positive, it means that abnormal cell changes or the presence of high-risk HPV have been detected in your cervical cells. It's important to remember that a positive result does not mean you have cervical cancer. It indicates the need for further investigation and follow-up to determine the significance of the findings. Your healthcare provider will discuss the next steps with you, which may include additional tests or procedures to examine the cervix more closely. The purpose of further investigation is to assess the severity of any abnormalities and determine the most appropriate course of action for treatment or monitoring.

Sometimes, the Cervical Screening Test result may come back as inadequate or unsatisfactory. This means that the sample collected during the test did not provide enough cells for an accurate analysis. In such cases, you will be advised to undergo a repeat screening test to ensure a proper evaluation of your cervical cells. It is important to attend the follow-up test as recommended by your healthcare provider.

By participating in routine Cervical Screening Tests at The Butterfly Clinic, you can take an active role in safeguarding your reproductive health and reducing the risk of cervical cancer.


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