Dr Glenda McLaren
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Cervical Screening

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Cervical Screening Test: Early Pap Smear Detection for Women's Health

Cervical screening is a vital aspect of women’s health, offering early detection and prevention of cervical cancer. Regular screenings are an essential part of maintaining your well-being. At Bloom Women’s Health, we provide you with the information and support you need to prioritise your health.

What is Cervical Screening?

Cervical screening, often referred to as a Pap smear or Pap test, is a medical procedure designed to examine cervical cells for the presence of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and precancerous changes in the cervix. It plays a pivotal role in detecting potential issues before they progress into cervical cancer, allowing for timely intervention and treatment.

The Cervical Screening Test replaced the Pap Smear Test in Australia in December 2017. The Pap Smear Test used to look for abnormal cells in the cervix, while the cervical screening test looks for HPV infection.

The new test for HPV can identify women who could be at risk of cervical cancer earlier than the Pap Smear Test could – it is more effective as a test.

Many people might still refer to a Pap Smear, however, the screening test now performed in Australia is called the Cervical Screening Test (CST).

You can learn more about the Cervical Screening Test at our blog article here.

Benefits of Cervical Screening

Cervical screening offers numerous benefits, including early detection of abnormalities, prevention of cervical cancer, and the peace of mind that comes with regular monitoring. These screenings are truly lifesaving, as they enable healthcare providers to identify and address potential concerns before they become more serious.

Who Should Get a Cervical Screening Test?

Cervical screenings are typically recommended for women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 74 years of age, every five years.

However, certain risk factors may necessitate earlier or more frequent screenings. It’s essential to understand these risk factors and discuss your specific situation with your healthcare provider. Some of the risk factors include:

High-Risk HPV Infection: 
If you’ve been diagnosed with a high-risk strain of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which is strongly linked to cervical cancer, your healthcare provider may recommend more frequent screenings.

A Weakened Immune System:
Individuals with compromised immune systems, whether due to certain medical conditions or medications, may require more frequent screenings to closely monitor their cervical health.

Family History: 
A family history of cervical cancer or certain genetic conditions may increase your risk. In such cases, your healthcare provider will assess your risk and recommend a screening schedule tailored to your needs.

Previous Abnormal Results:
If you’ve had abnormal cervical screening results in the past, your healthcare provider will determine the appropriate follow-up and screening frequency based on the severity of the abnormalities.

Exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES):
If you were exposed to DES in utero (a synthetic estrogen) or if your mother took it during pregnancy, you may be at an increased risk of certain reproductive health issues, including cervical cancer.

These are just a few examples of risk factors that may influence your cervical screening schedule. Your healthcare provider will conduct a thorough assessment of your medical history and individual risk profile to ensure the right screening plan for you. Regular communication and consultation with your provider are essential to maintaining your cervical health.

Importance of Regular Cervical Screenings

Regular cervical screenings have been widely recognized as effective tools for early detection and prevention of cervical cancer. When screenings are conducted at recommended intervals and abnormalities are detected and treated in a timely manner, they significantly reduce the likelihood of cervical cancer development.

Cervical Screening with Bloom's Gynaecologists

Preparation for a Cervical Screening​

To prepare for a cervical screening appointment, consider avoiding activities such as sexual intercourse, douching, or using vaginal medications for at least 24 hours prior to the test. Your healthcare provider may also provide specific recommendations. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise, can contribute to your overall well-being.

What Happens in a Cervical Screening Test?

The cervical screening test involves a simple and relatively quick process. A healthcare provider will use a speculum to gently open the vaginal canal and collect a cervical smear. While some individuals may experience mild discomfort, the procedure is generally well-tolerated. Your healthcare provider will address any concerns and ensure your comfort throughout.

You can learn more about what to expect during a Cervical Screening Test at our blog article here.

What to Expect After a Cervical Screening Test ​

After your cervical screening, you will need to wait for results, which typically take a 1-3  weeks.  

If any abnormalities are detected, follow-up appointments will be scheduled to discuss further steps and potential investigations and/or treatments. 

You will never be expected to interpret the results alone – your GP or Gynaecologist will arrange an appointment with you to explain your results and discuss if any further action is required. If your results are normal, you will likely just need to schedule your next screening for 5 years’ time. These regular screenings are essential for early intervention and prevention 

If you are registered on the National Cancer Screening Register, you will receive a mail notification that you are due for a screening every five years, which will contain the latest information about your options for testing. You can also contact the National Cancer Screening Register to update your contact details or ask questions.

You can learn more about what to expect from your Cervical Screening Results at our blog article here

Setting Up an Appointment for Cervical Screening

Setting up your cervical screening appointment is a straightforward process. Cervical Screening can be performed at a GP, a specialised nurse in GP clinic, or with a Gynaecologist. We encourage you to take the next step in prioritising your health.  

If you prefer to have your Cervical Screening Test with one of our Gynaecologists, you will need a referral from your GP.  

To schedule your screening with Bloom Women’s Health, please contact us or fill in our Contact Form. Our team is here to support you throughout the process and ensure you receive the care you deserve. Your health is your greatest asset, and we’re here to help you safeguard it. 

What is Cervical Screening?

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