New guidelines suggest that women should be offered take-home kits to screen for cervical cancer, aiming to reduce discrimination in healthcare. As provinces transition away from Pap smears, which involve a doctor collecting cervical cells to detect early signs of cancer, a newer HPV test is being introduced. This test detects high-risk types of the human papillomavirus (HPV) and is offered to those aged between 25 and 65 every five years.
Self-swabs for HPV, likened to at-home COVID-19 tests, could significantly enhance early detection. Dr. Aisha Lofters, a scientist and family physician, believes that at-home HPV testing can help overcome barriers like work commitments, past traumas, or lack of awareness, providing a safe and comfortable screening method. The HPV test’s accuracy can reach up to 90%, making it a more reliable method than the Pap smear. The hope is that these advancements will lead to the eradication of cervical cancer.