Australians Will Be The First To Implement A Self-Swab Cervical Screening Test

Kiss goodbye to your speculum nightmares.

cervical cancer screening

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Australians will be the first to access self-swabbing technology to detect cervical cancer as part of a major update to the National Cervical Screening Program.

We all know that pap smears are an essential part of your reproductive healthcare and are important for the early detection of cervical cancer. But let’s be real here, it is far from a pleasant experience.

Although the test changed from a pap smear to a HPV test back in 2017, which means people generally only need to test every five years — rather than two — the procedure itself remained largely the same.

Thankfully, the days of having a speculum inserted to complete a swab are behind us, with all people eligible for a cervical screening test now being allowed to collect their own sample — rather than a doctor performing the test.

Tests are available for people aged 25-74 who have either never had a cervical screening test/pap smear, or are overdue for one.

The new self-swab test process is pretty similar to the urine sample tests we currently use for various medical reasons. Basically, you ask your GP for a screening kit, and then will be given instructions to follow before being sent to a private room to swab yourself.

“You will be given a swab that you place into the vagina. You just turn it a number of times to collect the cells inside the vagina,” health expert Liz Ham told the ABC. “After that, you take it out and give it back to your doctor.”

Unfortunately, you can’t take the test home with you and it must be completed at the practice — but this is to ensure you have a doctor present if you need help with anything.

The news comes as Australia is on track to be the first country in the world to completely eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem, with pre-cancerous detection aiming to wipe out the cancer by 2028 in Australia and 2035 globally.