WHO CAN BE SCREENED?
Question: Is a self-collected sample as good as a sample taken by a healthcare provider?
Why should I undergo cervical screening?
Cervical screening using the HPV test looks for the 14 high-risk HPV types effectively. The body can clear most HPV infections on its own. Occasionally, the HPV infection is not cleared, which can cause changes to the cells in your cervix. If you are a female aged between 30 to 65 years old, it is advisable to get screened using a HPV test in order to detect if you have this virus so that necessary follow-up can be done to detect and treat any abnormalities caused by this infection to prevent cervical cancer.
I have had the HPV vaccine, do I still need screening?
Yes. The vaccine is very effective in preventing majority of cervical cancers. However, the vaccine does not prevent ALL cases of cervical cancer. Therefore it remains important to continue participating in routine cervical screening whether you have been vaccinated or not.
I haven’t had sexual contact for many years – do I need to be tested?
Yes. The HPV virus can remain inactive in the cells of the cervix for many years and can be re-activated later in life. For this reason, it is important to continue to have cervical screening tests until the age of 65.
I have had a Pap test done recently, should I still be screened?
Yes. The HPV test is a more sensitive cervical screening test and a negative test result would mean that you would not need to undergo cervical screening for the next ten years (if you are aged between 30 to 65 years old). Kindly check if you are eligible to do the test here.
Is a sample collected by myself as good as a sample taken by a healthcare provider?
"HPV testing on self-collected vaginal samples has a sensitivity that is equivalent to that of a practitioner-collected sample." (2)
- Dr. Lara Roeske,
Director of Education and Liaison Victorian Cytology Services
"HPV testing on vaginal self-samples using a valid PCR-based assay is as accurate as on clinician-taken self-samples." (3)
- Marc Arbyn
Coordinator of the Unit of Epidemiology
Belgian Cancer Center, Belgium
Can I do the test wrongly?
This test is simple to do on your own and most women do this test correctly. It is important to make sure the swab is inserted into your vagina and is rotated. Remove the swab and return it in the tube without cleaning or dropping it.
Are there any risks to doing the test?
Most women do not experience any physical discomfort while doing the test. For some women, you may experience mild discomfort but there should not be any pain. Should you experience any discomfort or difficulty in doing the test, a healthcare professional can advise or assist you. Please remember that most women get HPV at some point in their lives. In most women, HPV is cleared naturally with no serious abnormalities, but knowing that HPV is present may help you decide to have further tests.