Your questions about cervix self-screening

Will I do it correctly? Will it hurt?
You got this! Cervix self-screening is easy and should not hurt. Follow the instructions inside your kit. Only a small sample from your vagina is needed. A small Q-tip like swab is provided in your kit for you to easily and safely take your sample. The sample you collect is just as accurate as a provider taken sample.

Where is the Cervix Self-Screening pilot taking place?
Cervix self-screening is available to eligible participants in Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Belcerra, Anmore, Earl's Cove, Langdale, Madeira Park, Pender Harbour, Sechelt, Robert's Creek, Gibsons, Pemberton, Port Alberni, Parksville, Qualicum Beach, Lighthouse Country, Coombs, Errington, and Nanoose Bay.

What is human papillomavirus (HPV)?
HPV is a very common virus. It spreads easily through any kind of sexual contact, including intimate touching, and oral, vaginal and anal sex. The virus usually goes away on its own without causing any problems.

Does HPV cause cancer?
Most people will have an HPV infection at some point in their lives. Usually, the body’s immune system removes HPV within two years. But sometimes, high-risk HPV types do not clear on their own and can cause the cells in your cervix to become abnormal. These abnormal cells may become cancer cells over time.

How is cervix self-screening different from a Pap test?
The cervix self-screening kit looks for HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. It is an alternative to a screening Pap test. Unlike a Pap test, which looks for abnormal cell changes in your cervix, HPV testing looks for the virus that causes these abnormal cell changes to occur. Instead of having to go to your health care provider to have a sample taken from your cervix, with cervix self-screening you can collect your sample in the comfort, convenience and safety of your own home.

How often should I screen using cervix self-screening?
Cervix self-screening is highly effective at finding those at risk of cervical cancer. This means that you can safely go longer between screenings. Screening for HPV every five years is as safe as having a Pap test every three years.

I’m worried about my results. What should I do?
Learning that a high-risk HPV type was found may cause many feelings and raise a number of questions. It is rare for you to have cervical cancer when a high-risk HPV type was found. However, it is important for you to go to all of your follow-up appointments. If treatment is required, it is simple and very effective.

Should I tell my partner my results?
It is your choice whether or not you tell them. HPV is very common and most people who are sexually active will get HPV at some point in their life. In fact, over 70% (70 out of 100) of all sexually active Canadians will have at least one HPV infection in their lifetime.

Should my partner get screened?
Anyone with a cervix and who are between the ages of 25 and 69 should receive routine cervix screening. If your partner does not have a cervix, there is no screening test available at this time. However, it is important for your partner to see their health care provider for regular check-ups and to talk to them about their concerns.

What if I’m experiencing symptoms?
If you have vaginal bleeding after sex, between periods or after menopause; abnormal or increased vaginal discharge; unexplained pelvic pain or pain during sex, talk to your health care provider. It is important to investigate these symptoms - even if your screening results are normal.

Should I get the HPV vaccine?
Anyone age 9 and older can get the vaccine. The vaccine is very effective at protecting against HPV types that cause most cervical cancers. However, the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV. You should still get screened even if you have had the HPV vaccine. To learn more, visit www.immunizebc.ca/hpv.

Who should not screen with cervix self-screening?
If you are HIV positive or have had a solid organ transplant, cervix self-screening is not recommended for you. Please see your health care provider once a year for a Pap test.