Pap Smears are out Cervical Screening Tests are in
The now defunct Pap Smear was recommended to all women who had ever been sexually active, every 2 years, from the age of 20 to 70 years.
As of December 1st 2017 it has been replaced by the Cervical Screening Test.
The Cervical Screening Test or CST is recommended for all women from the age of 25 to 74 years and, as long as it is normal, is only required every 5 years.
So at Cranbourne Road Medical Centre we are busy transitioning our patients from one program to another.
These are some answers to the questions my patients have been asking me.
From the patients point of view the test will seem exactly the same. You ll be lying in the same position on the couch. The doctor will use the same speculum (the instrument we use to view the cervix). The doctor will use the same instruments to take the sample (the long handles brooms and brushes).
From the doctors point of view the test is a little different. After taking the sample, instead of making a glass slide, the broom or brush is placed in a small container with liquid in it.
It is okay to wait 5 years between tests as long as they are normal. Put simply, the old test was good but the new test is better. That’s because the old test, the Pap Smear, identified changes in the cells of the cervix once they had occurred. In contrast, the Cervical Screening Test identifies the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the actual cause of cervical cancer, and it can identify it before it even starts to damage the cervix.
It works in conjunction with the Gardisil injections. The Gardisil injections vaccinate against the most dangerous strains of HPV, the ones that are most likely to cause cancer of the cervix. This accounts for about 70% of cases so Cervical Screening is still essential.
Transitioning is simple
If you are over the age of 25 and have had a Pap smear ,simply see your doctor when your next Pap is due and they will do the Cervical Screening Test.
If you are under 25 years of age and have had an abnormal Pap Smear your doctor will need to give you individual advice.
If you are under 25 years of age and have only ever had normal Pap Smears in the past, you don’t need your first Cervical Screening Test until you turn 25.
If you have any of your own questions, please make an appointment at the clinic to discuss your individual circumstances. We have an immense amount of knowledge amongst our team of doctors and we want to help you be the healthiest version of you.
Dr Bronwyn Keely MBBS FRACGP