Spread your legs to maintain your health.
“It’s like going to the dentist, except it’s down there … and there aren’t any teeth”
A quirky new video is taking cervical cancer prevention to a new level by bringing viewers along Sophie’s journey of having a pap test. Created by Cancer Council Victoria and PapScreen Victoria, the video follows the character of Sophie who wakes to the shocking realisation that she’s booked in for that awkward pap test.
Confronted by the usual pre-pap test dilemmas, such as whether to shave ‘down there’ and which underwear to wear, Sophie gives herself pep talks to psych herself up for the main event.
“It’s okay. Nothing they haven’t seen before,” she tells herself, unconvincingly. “Okay. Get a grip! No, not grip… relax.”
PapScreen Victoria Manager Hiranthi Perera says with figures showing that more than half of young women are not having regular pap tests, the video aims to relieve some of the fear and anxiety that surrounds the cervical screening test.
“We know that young women especially put off having pap tests because they’re scared or embarrassed. This video is a realistic and light-hearted look at what happens during a Pap test to help ease some of those feelings,” Ms Perera says.
“Sophie also shows us how to best prepare for one – such as wearing a skirt and doing your best to relax.
“It’s so easy to get anxious about what is, really, a very simple and quick test that all women need to have. This video shows women that pap tests are really, not that bad.”
Latest figures show that more than half of young women aren’t having regular pap tests, while new research published in the Medical Journal of Australia this month shows that pap test rates are even lower in those who have had the HPV vaccine.
A pap test looks for abnormal changes to the cells on the cervix, which if left undetected and untreated, could develop into cervical cancer. Around 90 per cent of cervical cancers can be prevented with regular pap tests.
Current national guidelines recommend that all women aged 18 to 70 who have ever been sexually active should have a Pap test every two years.
Anxious about paps? Follow these tips:
- Relax and remember to breathe
- Wear a skirt, pants or shorts so you can simply undress from the waist down
- Feel free to ask questions
- Have the test first thing in the morning, so you can get it over and done with before you’ve had the whole day to stress about it
- If you feel uncomfortable at any time, let the doctor or nurse know
- If you arrive for your appointment but realise you’re not ready to do the test, you can always come back another time.
- Take a friend with you for support
The Pap test is a quick and simple test used to screen women for changes to the cells of the cervix (the lower, narrow end of the uterus). These changes, if left untreated, may lead to cervical cancer. Early detection of these cell changes means they can be easily and successfully treated.A Pap test is a safe and painless test that is performed by a doctor or nurse practitioner. To do the test, a sample of cells is taken from in and around the cervix using a collection device such as a spatula and/or a small brush. The specimen is placed on a glass slide or is rinsed into a vial of preservative, and sent to a laboratory for microscopic examination.
Can a Pap test detect sexually transmitted diseases too?
Sometimes the Pap test can detect only some sexually transmitted diseases and infections. The Pap test is not designed to detect these infections specifically, so any investigation of symptoms associated with sexually transmitted diseases will require additional testing.
If a ThinPrep Pap test is used, it is possible to test for several of the most common sexually transmitted diseases from the same sample.
Why do I need a Pap test every two years?
Most cases of cervical cancer take up to 10 years to develop. During that period cell changes may be detected using the Pap test. Early detection of these changes means they can be treated with great success.
Sometimes a Pap test may fail to detect the early cell changes. Any changes that are missed on one test will hopefully be detected two years later, before they become a more serious problem.
Using a more accurate Pap test such as the ThinPrep Pap test may lead to earlier detection of any cell changes.
When was my last Pap test?
Conventional Pap SmearIf you can’t remember when you had your last Pap test, it may not have been in the last two years. The fact is, you need regular Pap tests to know if you are at risk of developing cervical cancer. And the most effective way to treat cervical cancer is through early detection.
ThinPrep Pap Test Slide
That’s why you should ask your doctor for the ThinPrep? Pap Test?. Australian studies have shown that ThinPrep significantly increases the early detection of abnormal cervical cells compared with ordinary Pap smears. ?
Unlike the regular Pap smear, where more than 80% of the sample is discarded prior to testing, ? the ThinPrep Pap Test collects virtually 100% of the sample. This produces a representative sample and a clearer slide for a more accurate diagnosis, which can give you greater peace of mind for only a small additional cost.
References: 1. Roberts, et al. Medical Journal of Australia, November 1997. 2. Hutchinson ML, et al. Am J Clin Path. 101:215-219, 1994.
ThinPrep and the ThinPrep Pap Test are registered trademarks of CYTYC Corporation. For Distribution by Cytyc Australia. Part No. Intl. 85654-001 Rev. A ? 2000 Cytyc Corporation.