I have just been reading a news report about the possible end of cervical cancer smears (by a Science Correspondent, who happens to be a man) and how home kits are hopefully going to replace cervical cancer smear tests done in the GP’s surgery assuming all the trials work out. He comments in the article that this would eliminate the need for Pap smear tests “which can be uncomfortable and which surveys suggest many women find embarrassing.”
WE DON’T NEED A BLOODY SURVEY TO TELL US THAT.
Find me a single woman over 25 who doesn’t think the whole experience is excruciatingly embarrassing and often painful from start to finish. What part of turning up at a GP’s surgery, taking off your pants, lying on a bed with your legs akimbo whilst a doctor or nurse (possibly both and maybe even a trainee) and an accompanying Anglepoise lamp all peer into your vagina at close range. Then you are asked to “relax” as a cold metal clamp contraption, not unlike a medieval torture device gets inserted into your vagina and then prized open via a wind up screw that never seems to quite work, so it’s clunky and painful and that’s before they have even begun to scrape bits of skin off your cervix. You might then also be asked to make fists with your hands and put them under your bum to raise your pelvis up so they can peer in even further and then you may well again be asked to “relax”.
I could not be more delighted for all our daughters and young women if very soon they will never ever have to go through above mentioned experience. Apparently the kits you will be able to use in the comfort and privacy of your own home will take a urine sample or a sample of cells from a vaginal swab instead and then all you need to do is post it back to the NHS.
Who invented the home kit?
Why has it taken so long?
A woman no doubt – give her a knighthood or the Nobel Prize for something immediately…and a HUGE thank you from me and a lot of other women!
Self testing will of course prove to be hugely popular once it becomes standard and may even save more lives as I’m sure lots of women avoid the whole smear test experience out of sheer loathing to have to put themselves through it. This new method, known as the S5 test will look for a collection of molecules that control the activity of a certain gene and eliminate the need to look at cells under a microscope in the first instance. The test also looks for the four types of the human papilloma virus (HPV) that are most strongly associated with cancer and then the data is used to calculate an “S5 score” that indicates the overall cancer risk.
I am keeping everything crossed (especially my legs) that the results continue to look promising and self-sampling becomes the standard method for cervical cancer screening tests in the very near future.
PS: Not sure why I’ve got a photo of green apples to accompany this post, but it seemed hopeful somehow….