Dr Judy Gomes, an Associate GP at a leading London private practice has shared her thoughts and concerns about the new ‘DIY Smear Testing’ kits that are currently being trialled.
Welcoming the new testing procedure, Dr Judy Gomes, an Associate GP at Harrow Health Care Centre in London, said: “It is always good for patients to have as many options as possible to access care and assessment. This will help to reach out to those who repeatedly fail to attend their screening appointment either due to fear of the test itself, because they are housebound, have anxieties about seeing a medical practitioner or concerns about the potential results of a test.
“This method, will be a great way of catching the non-attenders and should be easy to use. Currently, one of the greatest risks for getting cervical cancer is to be a non-attender for screening.”
However, Dr Gomes said that the tests weren’t a complete replacement for cervical screening, and that other factors are important
“Women often come in with other concerns related to cervical cancer and it may go undetected,” she said. “It is very important to be carefully assessed and examined when other symptoms become apparent, such as abnormal bleeding, pain during intercourse, abdominal pain, or strong family history of similar cancers.
“By visually assessing the cervix a specialist doctor can diagnose other abnormalities, such as polyps, infections or prolapses. This test only allows for the detection of HPV, which is important but could not be used to assess cytology.
“If the test is not taken by a trained smear taker it will not have the endocervical cells that are required for cytology. The current screening process automatically puts any positive HPV test up for further testing in the form of cytology(where the sample is examined under a microscope)
“Overall though this option is a great step forward in reaching out to those individuals who might never attend for their screening tests and will help address the current falling rates of attendance.”