A New Frontier in Awkward: Do Your Own Pap-Smears
Sure, we here at Medgadget are big fans of patients doing self-exams. Self breast exams and self testicular exams are excellent ways for patients to take their health into their own hands (bad pun intended). But doing your own pap smear? Will the kit come w/ a speculum and an angled mirror? No...there's just nothing good that can come from this.
Women who forgo screening for cervical cancer may be more inclined to participate in such programs if they're provided with a kit to obtain cervical samples at home, Dutch investigators report.
It's estimated that 28 percent of women in the Netherlands do not participate in cervical screening programs. Dr. Chris J. L. M. Meijer from VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, and colleagues wanted to see if such women would agree to testing if they could provide samples without going to a clinic.
As reported in the International Journal of Cancer, 2,546 women who had not undergone regular cervical screening were mailed a self-sample kit. It included a small brush for collecting a cervical specimen, a collection tube, easy-to-follow instructions and a padded envelope for returning the sample to the lab. There it would be tested for human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the cause of nearly all cases of cervical cancer.
The rate of high grade pre-cancer detected in the self-sampling responders (1.67 percent) was significantly higher than in the other group (0.97 percent).
"Importantly," the researchers say, the costs of detecting one such lesion via self-sampling "are in the same range as those calculated for conventional ... screening."
Furthermore, they calculate that if the strategy was extended to the entire Netherlands, self-sampling could result in the early detection of 1,085 extra pre-cancerous lesions, "leading to roughly 100 cervical cancers being prevented or detected earlier."
Hmmm...maybe we spoke too soon...apparently Dutch women are very comfortable taking their own cervical samples. As always, our female fans, we need your help on this one: Would ya', Could ya', Should ya'?