There are few things most women dread more than a pap smear every two years – as bearable as they always are once you actually go and get one – so this news will come as a very pleasant surprise: now we won’t have to bother.
Of course, there’s a catch: pap smears are being phased out in place of HPV tests, which as far as the patient is concerned, will involve pretty much the same process. But the new HPV tests come with one major drawcard: instead of being tested every two years, we’ll now only need testing every five.
That sound you hear? It’s women everywhere breathing a sigh of relief.
The new test will also only be needed once a woman turns 25 (sexually active women currently need to start having pap smears once they turn 18), the ABC reports.
The new test came into effect on December 1 and will improve early detection of cervical cancer.
“I think it is a great advance. There is a much less burden on women not having to come back every two years,” Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told News Corp.
“Trials done around the world shown that if you screen for the primary virus rather than looking at abnormal cells through a pap smear it can prevent 30 per cent more women from survivable cancers.”
HPV is responsible for approximately 99 per cent of cervical cancers. It will still be necessary for all women to have the test, even if you’ve been vaccinated against HPV, as the vaccine doesn’t protect against all of the various different types.