In celebration of Cervical Screening Awareness Week, the pivotal role of health professionals in promoting screening options is highlighted. Under the National Cancer Screening Program (NCSR), participants now have the choice between self-collected vaginal samples or provider-collected cervix samples.
Self-collection allows all eligible cervical screening participants to have the option to take their own vaginal sample for human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, removing a significant barrier to participation in screening (University of Melbourne and Victorian Cytology Service Ltd, 2017).
There are some groups that are less likely to screen, for example Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women, people who identify as LGBTIQ+, and people who have experienced sexual violence. Self-collection may be more acceptable to these groups.
Self-collection may also improve general screening participation. A pilot demonstrated that 85.7% of never-screened or under-screened women and people with a cervix who declined a speculum examination agreed to HPV self-collection when the test was offered to them in a sensitive and culturally appropriate manner and with appropriate follow-up advice (Curr Oncol., 2018).
Self-collection of a vaginal sample is just as effective at detecting HPV as a clinician-collected sample of the cervix. A summary of the evidence of self-collection sensitivity can be found in the National Cervical Screening Program Clinical Guidelines.
To support general practices with offering the self-collection cervical screening option, the QI team have recently updated their QI resources. These resources align with the NCSR changes and are included below:
These resources can be used to support general practice staff to implement a Cervical Screening QI activity, with the aim to increase the rates of cervical screening in their general practice, as well as assisting staff to feel more confident in offering the option of self-collection to patients when appropriate.
If you would like support with implementing a Cervical Screening Self-collection QI activity, email the GCPHN QI Team at email@example.com or phone 07 5612 5408. We also have an opportunity for GPs to participate in a clinical audit and earn 11 hours upon completion.