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Prevention is in your hands – uptake in self-collection cervical screening in the region

May 31, 2024

In Queensland, approximately 200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, with over 70% of these cases being women who have never been screened or lapsed screening.

Evidence shows a Cervical Screening Test using a self-collected sample from the vagina is just as accurate at detecting HPV (in asymptomatic individuals with no prior history of abnormal results) as a clinician-collected sample taken from the cervix during a speculum examination.

In the Darling Downs and West Moreton region in 2023, there was a cervical screening rate of just 56.3%.

As such, a crucial need for uptake in cervical screening self-collection among under and never-screened groups was identified, with Queensland Health implementing the ‘In their hands’ project.

Over a twelve-month period, from August 2023, the PHN undertook multiple initiatives targeting both health professionals and consumers. These initiatives collectively provided training, clinical support, and advice multi-modally.

Since the commencement of the project, 120 face-to-face education sessions were completed from 180 practices.

After additional funding was provided in March 2024, the project expanded to target priority populations, with a targeted consumer campaign for these groups developed.

In August 2023, the PHN sent a baseline survey to the practices in the region, with 92% indicating that they offer self-collection cervical screening. In the PHN’s follow up survey in May 2024, 100% of responding practices currently offer self-collection cervical screening.

From July to August 2023, self-collection tests made up just 20% of cervical screening tests. However, from September 2023 to February 2024, this number increased to 28%, confirming an increased usage of this modality in the region (Queensland Health).

The choice of self-collection cervical screening empowers people to take control of their own health and prevent cervical cancer and through increasing privacy also reduces key barriers such as physical and psychological discomfort around screening.

Having regular screening tests is the best way to protect yourself. If someone you love is eligible and has never screened or hasn’t screened for some time, encourage them to do their cervical screening.

Self-collection is available to all people eligible for a Cervical Screening Test – that is people who:

  • are aged between 25 and 74
  • have had any type of sexual contact
  • are a woman / person with a cervix
  • are due or overdue for routine cervical screening.

To hear more about self-collection cervical screening, tune into GPs in a Pod this Tuesday for a conversation with cervical screening expert Dr Caroline Harvey.