This year I had a loop diathermy treatment for CIN2 cervical cells after my routine smear test came back as abnormal following the presence of the HPV virus. I am incredibly fortunate that it was detected and removed fairly early on and that I am now back to full health, but for those who skip their smear tests, are too embarrassed to go or think that it won’t affect them I cannot stress how important this test is; detection saves lives and sadly nobody is immune to cancer so please always attend your smear tests or test from the comfort and privacy of your own home with the GynaeCheck.
HPV, or the human papilloma virus is a sexually transmitted virus that is incredibly common as 4/5 people will be exposed to it at some point in life. HPV can cause the cells of the cervix to change and create abnormalities by attacking the basal cells of the cervix, this affects the DNA in the cells causing new cells to grow abnormally and may develop into cervical cancer if left untreated. It is therefore essential to participate in cervical screening and vaccinations in order to prevent cancer.
HPV can infect men and women alike leading to cervical, anus and mouth cancer with 99.7% of cervical cancers being caused by HPV. Anybody who is sexually active is likely to have come in contact with HPV which the body’s immune system usually clears of its own accord; however a small percentage of women cannot clear the virus naturally and it remains dormant in the body for years at a time. If left untreated these abnormal cells caused by HPV can develop into cancer. At the pre-cancerous stages of detection treatment is very successful and prevents the progression of cancer, but if left untreated or diagnosed at a later stage then aggressive treatment, chemo and radiotherapy will be necessary.
There are 13 high-risk types of HPV which cause cervical cancers and as part of the National Cervical Screening Programme younger women are now being vaccinated against HPV to prevent several of these. Screening is performed by taking a sample of cells from the cervix which are sent to a laboratory for analysis of high-risk HPV. Home testing is quick, discrete, easy to do and reliable, taking away the fear embarrassment and taboos of the traditionally uncomfortable smear test performed at a doctors surgery.
To perform a home GynaeCheck it is recommended you lay down somewhere comfortable with a towel beneath you as there is the possibility of water spillage during sample collection. With clean hands open the packaging and remove the self-collector along with the protective foil cap at the tip of the device. The self-collector is inserted into the vagina just as you would a tampon before pressing and holding down the white button for three seconds to release the saline solution within. Releasing the button causes the self-collector to reabsorb the solution and collect the sample quickly and pain-free. The self-collector then slots into the transport vial, pressing the button down once more to release the fluid before screwing on the lid and writing the date of collection on the label. Sealed into the plastic bag included with a barcode and absorbent material it fits inside the pre-paid pre-addressed return box which is posted off with the results arriving in just 10 days time; it really couldn’t be easier!