Hampton Park Women’s Health Care offers cervical cancer screening for women between the ages of 25 and 65, helping to catch the early signs of cervical cancer so the growth of cancerous cells can be prevented. Previously known as a pap smear, cervical cancer screening in Australia is an important tool for preventing cases of cervical cancer by detecting the presence of the HPV virus, which can lead to cervical cancer.
A pap smear refers to a test that checks for abnormal cell changes in the cervix. As of December 2017, the pap smear in Melbourne and Australia has been replaced by the cervical cancer screening test and is no longer covered by Medicare. Performed in a similar way to a pap smear, the new cervical cancer screening test checks for the presence of the HPV virus itself rather than looking for cell changes caused by the virus, making it a more effective and accurate screening method for cervical cancer. As a result, cervical cancer screening is now only required every 5 years when results come back normal.
When you arrive for your appointment, you’ll be asked some routine health questions by the health practitioner. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask any questions of your own that you might have regarding the cervical screening test or your general health. Next, you’ll be asked to undress in private from the waist down before lying down on an examination table, with a sheet or blanket provided to cover yourself. Your health practitioner will insert a speculum into your vagina to look at the cervix. To ensure your comfort, they may use lubrication or warm the speculum beforehand. Once the cervix can be clearly seen, a special brush tool is inserted to collect cells from the cervix. These cells are then placed into a container.
The test doesn’t take long and should not cause pain, although some women may feel discomfort. If you feel uncomfortable at any stage of the test, let your health practitioner know. For women who cannot tolerate the discomfort, we offer Penthrox a medicine used to reduce pain, which is inhaled to lightly sedate you. You will need to stay at our clinic for one hour after receiving this before you’re able to drive home.
After the test has been conducted, the collected cells are sent to a laboratory to determine if the HPV virus is present. Results typically take 1 to 2 weeks to get back from the laboratory.
While the pap smear was required every 2 years for women aged over 18, the new cervical cancer screening test is only required every 5 years for women over the age of 25. If a screening test comes back with a positive result for the HPV virus, you may require testing more often to monitor your risk of developing cervical cancer. Normally this test is performed by your regular doctor however can be performed if needed due to previous difficulty or at the time of surgery.
To make an appointment for a cervical cancer screening test at our women’s health clinic, call the friendly staff at Hampton Park Women’s Health Care today.