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Cervical screening self-collection


Did you know that cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers – but only two-thirds (67.5 percent) of Queensland women aged 25-74 years participate in cervical screening?


This is despite Queensland having one of the highest cervical cancer incidence rates in Australia, with around 190 people diagnosed with cervical cancer across the state every year.


The good news is the cervical screening self-collection option – launched in mid-2022 – is increasing participation in Queensland, particularly in northern and western regions.


Queensland Health spokesperson Dr Anna Hawkes said self-collection gave people the flexibility to collect their own sample, generally at a GP in a private space such as behind a curtain or in a private room.


“We know some people may feel uncomfortable getting a cervical screen by a clinician, so the self-collect option makes the process much more private and comfortable,” Dr Hawkes said.


“Recent data shows that among people aged 30 to 74 years who had never had a Cervical Screening Test before, almost one in five were choosing to self-collect their sample.


“Research shows over 70 per cent of cervical cancers occur in women who have not been screened as often as recommended or who have never participated in screening, so it’s great to see an increase in people participating.”


While a Cervical Screening Test should be done every five years for women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 74 years who have ever been sexually active, Queensland Health research showed that many people were not aware they should get tested.


The test detects human papillomavirus (HPV) which can cause cell changes that may progress to cervical cancer if left untreated.


“Because cervical cancer can take up to 10-15 years to develop, the early detection of HPV and cell changes means it may be possible to prevent HPV infection developing into cervical cancer,” Dr Hawkes said.


“We know people may not have kept their routine screening appointments during the pandemic. Our message to women aged 25 to 74 years who have delayed is that now is the time to catch up, regardless of whether you have been vaccinated against HPV.”


If you have received an invitation or reminder about cervical screening, or are interested in self-collection for cervical screening, please call your healthcare provider.


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