The goal is to phase out Pap tests in favor of more effective HPV testing.
British Columbia on Tuesday launched the country’s first at-home cervical cancer self-examination program, aiming to eliminate cervical cancer through early detection and phase out traditional Pap tests.
From January 29th, anyone between the ages of 25 and 69 who is asymptomatic may Order a human papillomavirus (HPV) test kit online from BC Cancer or call 1-877-702-6566. Participants can mail a vaginal swab sample to a lab or bring it to their health care provider, and results are available within four to six weeks.
Those who receive a negative result are advised to undergo a repeat test in five years, which is longer than the three-year interval between Pap tests.
Depending on the type of HPV, patients with a positive result are advised to undergo further diagnostic testing (colposcopy or Pap test) through their primary care physician, designated physician, or, if a local clinic is not available, their physician.
HPV is thought to be the cause of the majority of cervical cancers, making it the fourth most common cancer in women worldwide and the fastest growing cancer in women in Canada. It is one of the most common cancers. Approximately 200 people are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in British Columbia.
Prime Minister David Eby said at a news conference in Vancouver on Tuesday that it is a “very real possibility” that vaccination and screening will eliminate the deadly disease within at least 10 years.
“This program puts the power to prevent cervical cancer in the hands of ordinary British Columbians,” Eby said. “It’s fast, it’s more accurate than traditional testing methods, and it’s effective over a longer period of time.”
Both British Columbia and Prince Edward Island offer HPV testing, but only British Columbia offers an at-home self-collection option. The HPV9 vaccine is also routinely provided free to all of her sixth grade students in British Columbia through school clinics.
Dr. Gina Ogilvie, the University of BC’s Canada Research Chair in the Global Control of HPV-Related Diseases, says that while Pap tests can detect changes caused by HPV to cervical cells, HPV tests can detect high-risk diseases. He said his presence could be detected. Types of human papillomavirus before cell changes occur.
The move to HPV testing as primary screening for cervical cancer is supported by “rigorous evidence”, Ogilvie said. “Randomized trials, including a very large one conducted here in British Columbia with more than 20,000 women, have shown that HPV-based screening has a positive It has been shown to be effective in identifying people with cancer lesions.”
Cervical cancer tests will continue to be available to women who choose that option, but the state announced it will move to HPV testing by health care providers as the primary screening method over the next three years. The transition will be made by age group, starting with people aged 55 and older.
Kaylee Lynch, a Vancouver family physician who is married to Evie, said she will be one of the providers who accepts untreated patients with positive HPV screening results.
“So if you find out you’ve tested positive and you don’t have a doctor to follow up with you, someone like me can guide you,” she said, adding that the former 35-year-old man He added that he mourned. An elderly patient died because her cervical cancer was detected too late.
The self-screening HPV test is an expansion of a pilot project launched in 2021 that allowed people in certain communities, including central Vancouver Island, to order cervical self-screening kits.
Christina Price, 50, of Port Alberni, raised health concerns with her doctor in the spring, but there were various explanations for her symptoms, given that she was nearing menopause. She said she and her doctor decided not to rush her routine Pap test. She was due to give birth in about a year.
But Price saw advice on Facebook about the self-screening HPV Test Pilot and decided to order a test.
“The timing was perfect,” Price said. “That ad showed up just when I needed it, without even knowing I needed it.”
Price took a vaginal swab, mailed the sample, and was informed within a few weeks that she would need further diagnostic testing – a colposcopy to examine her cervix. Within a month, she was connected to a gynecologist in Nanaimo.
She underwent a biopsy and then a procedure to remove cancerous tissue from her cervix. She also plans to have another colposcopy in six months to check for any lesions.
Price said she is grateful for the self-screening test, which gives women “more confidence and control over their health.”