Cervical Health Screening
Emphasizing the critical role of HPV testing to maintain cervical health. Discussing the historical impact of Pap tests in reducing cervical cancer mortality and the evolution towards self-administered HPV tests
Women's Health Screen
100 years ago in 1923, Georgios Papanikoloaou and Aurel Babes invented the Pap test which is now also known as cervical screening or a smear test. Prior to this, cervical cancer was amongst the most deadly cancer types because symptoms typically do not show until the disease has progressed significantly. Thanks to early detection with screening, cervical cancer has a 92% survival rate today.
The Pap test involved taking a sample of the cells at the cervical/uterine border. The cells are examined microscopically at BC Cancer to look for any abnormalities or changes of cell type. The changes if seen are categorized as mild, moderate, severe and cancerous. Depending on the results, women will be asked to return for another test in 3-36 months or sent on for further diagnostic testing.
We are now into the next phase of cervical screening. Beginning in early 2024, screening will involve a self-administered vaginal swab. The swab will be tested for HPV as over 95% of cervical cancers are caused by malignant strains of this virus. Swabs can be acquired through family doctors, walk-in clinics and directly from The BC Cervical Screening program HERE.
Women are encouraged to perform monthly self breast exams to become familiar with their breast tissue and note if a change arises. Women who are aged 40 and over can book their own mammogram appointments for screening purposes without a referral (at BC Women’s Breast Health Services). Additional information and booking can be found HERE. Manual breast exams can be requested at any in-person appointment. If a breast lump is found with self-screening or in-office, a referral is required for a diagnostic evaluation which may be done as a mammogram or as an ultrasound. Breast screening should be performed on any person with breast tissue, including transgender people.
Dr. Luis' Naturopathic Approach to Cervical Screening
Dr. Luis will review gynecological health and discuss any concerns or symptoms during an initial visit or follow-up appointment. There is no additional fee for the cervical screening self-test kit.
During your appointment, you will be asked about current symptoms, your menstrual cycle, and discuss labs that have been done and concerns that you are having. Some women who may have a sensitive sexual history or negative PAP experiences in the past may find self-testing a more comfortable experience.
Naturopathic doctors have many treatment options to address common female conditions. Vaginal yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and HPV infections including abnormal cells on the cervix can be treated using herbs, vitamins and sometimes pharmaceuticals if warranted. NDs will also provide diet and lifestyle suggestions for both prevention and as part of treatment plans
Frequently Asked Questions
Cervical health screening is a process used to detect abnormal cells in the cervix that could lead to cervical cancer. This screening can involve PAP tests, HPV testing, or both.
HPV testing is important because it can detect the presence of high-risk HPV types that are known to cause cervical cancer. Early detection allows for timely intervention.
Anyone with a cervix between the ages of 25 to 69 which includes transgender people and women in same-sex relationships should have regular vaginal HPV screening tests. When normal results are found, cervical cancer screening can be every 5 years.
Cervical screening has evolved from solely relying on Pap tests to include HPV testing, which can be more predictive of cervical health risks. There’s also a shift towards self-administered HPV tests for increased accessibility.
Yes, naturopathic approaches can complement traditional screening methods by addressing overall gynecological health and potentially reducing risk factors associated with cervical cancer.