Cervical self-sampling for under-screened women now available

Paul Hayes

15/01/2018 9:22:38 AM

Victoria’s VCS Pathology has been accredited for testing of self-collected samples from eligible women under the renewed National Cervical Screening Program.

VCS Pathology Executive Director, Associate Professor Marion Saville, said that self-sampling will allow women who avoid Pap smears to access vital cervical screening tests.
VCS Pathology Executive Director, Associate Professor Marion Saville, said that self-sampling will allow women who avoid Pap smears to access vital cervical screening tests.

Self-sampling is available to women at least 30 years of age and who are considered under-screened (four or more years since last Pap test), or who have never been screened and who decline a practitioner-collected specimen. Self-collection is a vaginal swab for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. The sample contains vaginal, not cervical, cells.
Self-collection for the renewed National Cervical Screening Program was not initially available from the program’s 1 December introduction, with a validation process of the laboratory and platform testing processes still underway. VCS Pathology is the first laboratory in Australia approved by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) to test self-samples.
VCS Pathology Executive Director, Associate Professor Marion Saville, said that self-sampling will allow women who avoid Pap smears to access vital cervical screening tests.
‘Our analyses of screening registry data have consistently shown that of women who develop cervical cancer in Australia at least 80% are under or never screened,’ she said. ‘There are some women for whom accepting a speculum examination is very difficult, and potentially traumatic, and self-sampling offers a way to effectively reach these women.’
A self-sampling pilot project in which VCS Pathology was involved demonstrated high acceptability of self-sampling among under-screened women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and disadvantaged backgrounds, with 86% of women who refused a practitioner-collected sample accepting the invitation to self-sample.

Practitioner instructions
Sampling instrument
A flocked swab can be used to collect the vaginal sample. Note: dry swabs held in most clinics are flocked – check the label.
Taking the sample
How to take your own HPV test – a guide for women.
Requesting the test
Practitioners should request a cervical screening test.
Sending the sample
VCS Pathology provides instructions for sending samples.

cervical cervical-screening self-sampling

newsGP weekly poll How do you use PBS authorities?


Login to comment

Karen crewe   15/01/2018 4:40:04 PM

Is it correct that the patient doing the self sampling has to be in the dr/nurses room to take their sample.
If so, this information should be made available to patients.

Dr F. Wasti   16/01/2018 10:24:14 AM

It sounds a very good idea. Has it been introduced in NSW?

newsGP   16/01/2018 10:33:25 AM

Dr Wasti, VCS Pathology can receive self-collected samples from eligible women around Australian, and offers bulk billing for any eligible Australian woman not residing in Victoria.

Dr Lara Roeske   16/01/2018 10:53:21 AM

Thank you, Karen.
Self-collection can be offered to eligible women who are identified by the GP or practice nurse during a consultation in a practice/clinic that routinely undertakes cervical screening.
Some women eligible for self-collection may be more anxious about cervical screening. GPs can reassure eligible women in a sensitive and culturally appropriate manner about the test. This may include using a visual guide to explain how the test is done. It may also be useful to show women the sampling device, describing the soft tip and telling women that taking the sample should not hurt. Women should be directed to a private area in the clinic to take the sample, usually the patient toilet. Tell women to place the swab back in the tube after they have taken the sample and return this to the doctor or nurse. Let them know they should ask the doctor or nurse if they have any questions.
It is also important to document the woman’s preferred method of contact for receiving results, and provide some information on how they will be followed up if HPV is detected. Consider updating contact details at this visit. Remember to reassure women that they are at low risk of cervical cancer if oncogenic HPV is not detected on the self-sample and that they will be invited to re-screen in five years. A clinician-collected sample is recommended at this visit.

Lalantha Senanayake   17/01/2018 7:30:21 PM

It seems very good patient friendly measure and hopefully yield better outcome in those categories of people.

Sharon Ling   24/01/2018 11:46:53 AM

Can you please advise the status of self collect testing for Pathology labs ?
our understanding is that VCS is the only laboratory accreditated?
Can we refer on to VCS ?