Who can have a Smear Test?
Women who are worried about cervical cancer can have a Smear Test (or PAP Smear), through Better2Know. The test is for women 21 years of age or over, who are worried about cervical cancer. Better2Know does not recommend PAP Smears for women under the age of 21 as generally the cells of the cervix are still developing at thsi age and can often give rise to incorrect results which can be distressing to the individual. If you are younger than 21 and are worried about your cervical health, please contact Bette2Know and ask to speak to our medical team who will be happy to provide advice and guidance.
When should I have a Smear Test?
A Smear test is used to detect abnormal cell changes in the cervix that could potentially develop into cervical cancer. Our Smear tests are very accurate and reliable, however, we do ask you to check that you are not bleeding on the day of your test, as this can interfere with the analysis of your sample. Women who are sexually active should have regular smear tests and should start then from around twelve months after they become sexually active.
Did you know? …
Around 80% of sexually active men and women will contract the HPV virus at some point during their lifetime.
What happens during my Smear Test?
When you meet with our clinician, they will ask you if you have any questions before they begin. They will then ask you to remove your underwear (you may prefer to wear a skirt or similar garment). You will be asked to lie comfortably on a bed with your legs raised and apart to give the clinician good access to your vagina. The clinician will gently insert a speculum to open your vagina and will then take a sample of cells from your cervix using a small brush. This procedure can be a little bit uncomfortable but will not hurt. The clinician will help you to relax. The sample is then sent to our laboratory for analysis. The results will be back in 3 working days from when your sample is received in the laboratory.
What do the results mean?
A Smear Test looks for abnormal cells on the cervix. Most people's results will be normal, and will not require another test for the next 3 years.
If your test detects any changes to the cells, the sample can then be tested to see if you have a HPV infection. Having abnormal cells does not mean that you have cervical cancer, but it is useful to establish whether these changes are a result of a HPV infection. Because HPV is a common cause of cervical cancer, if these changes to the cells are detected and a HPV infection is detected, then Better2Know will help you to access further investigations to find out what is causing the changes in your cells.
Better2Know recommends that you choose the Smear test with a HPV test, so that you can get a full picture of your cervical health at the same time and from the same sample.
What is HPV?
HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is a very common virus that can be transmitted through sexual contact, and is the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer. HPV is also the cause of genital warts. There are more than 100 types of HPV and some can cause abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix, which can lead to cervical cancer. There is no cure for HPV, however, treatments are available for genital warts and any changes to the cells of the cervix can be closely examined and appropriate treatements provided. If you are sexually active or have symptoms of HPV, you should get tested regularly and keep yourself from genital warts and cervical and other cancers.
HPV and Cervical Screening
The cells on the cervix undergo a series of changes over the course of many years, and the purpose of cervical screening is to detect changes to the cells before they become cancerous due to the presence of the HPV virus.
Better2Know offers a comprehensive range of tests for both women and men. The tests for women include a full examination of the cells of the cervix and an evaluation of your HPV status and cervical health.
Tests available for women are:
- A PAP smear, where cells are collected from the cervix using a small brush. The cells are then examined for any trace of abnormalities and if any abnormalities are detected, Better2Know will suggest appropriate next steps
- A HPV test, where a sample is collected from the appropriate site and is tested using a PCR method to detect up to 20 High Risk and Low Risk viral types. This test may disrupt the cells of the cervix making them unsuitable for a PAP test for a period of time, so it may be better to have the combined test if you are worried about both.
- A combined PAP smear and HPV test. This is recommended for women concerned about their cervical health and HPV status. This test looks for changes to the cells of the cervix, and tests for 20 types of the viruses.
Better2Know offers swab tests for men. Swabs can be taken from the urethra, anus, or any visible warts, however, your Better2Know Doctor will determine the appropriate site for sampling.
Results are available 3 days from when the sample is received in the laboratory.