*Update: On 1 December 2017, the Pap test was replaced with a new Cervical Screening Test every five years. Click here for the up-to-date information on cervical screening.*
Cervical cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix (an organ at the lower end of the womb in a woman’s lower reproductive tract). Cervical cancer begins in the cervix but may spread to surrounding organs, such as the vagina or to distant parts of the body e.g the lungs and liver.
Regular Cervical (Pap) smear has been proven to be a reliable screening tool for cervical cancers. It aids early detection and treatment thus reduces the number of women who develop or die from cervical cancer.
Pap smear detects early changes in the cervix before cervical cancer develops. It can also detect cervical cancer if already present. 85% of women in Australia who develop cervical cancer have either not had a Pap smear or have been inadequately screened at recommended intervals.
The current guidelines for PAP smears is to have it once every 2 years (more frequent follow up smears are required if abnormal results are found at any stage).
We have recently reviewed our database for records of previous Pap smear testing (cervical cancer screening) for eligible patients and are now contacting all relevant patients that have not had a Pap smear in the last 30 months (2.5 years).
All women aged 18 to 70 years who have ever had sexual contact are recommended to have a Pap smear every two years. Regular Pap smears are recommended even if a woman is single, widowed, or have only ever had one partner. Pap tests are just as important after menopause as they are before menopause.
If you have had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus/womb) but your cervix is still intact, you should still have regular Pap smears. If you have had surgery and unsure if your cervix is still intact, please see your GP for a review and discussion about this.
Pap smear is bulk-billed for all eligible women.
Pap smear is quite a straightforward clinical procedure. If unfamiliar with it or any concerns from previous Pap smears, please discuss with your GP.
Although Pap smear is a good screening test, if you develop any unusual symptoms e.g discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding etc, despite an up to date normal Pap smear result, please do not hesitate to see your GP to discuss and evaluate your symptoms in other ways that may be clinically appropriate
If it is your preference, feel free to request a female doctor or nurse while booking an appointment to have/discuss your Pap smear.
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