Chapter 2 – The Cervix

Self-collected cervical screening test

Self-collected CST is when a patient collects their own vaginal swab for HPV testing without a speculum examination. This should be ordered and overseen by a healthcare professional, who is able to provide advice regarding the differences between self-collection and clinician-collected samples, advice about how to take a self-collected sample, and follow-up results (including obtaining a clinician-collected LBC if required). Patients attending consultations in-person should be encouraged to collect their sample while at the clinic, as it is more likely that samples will be collected and forwarded to the pathology laboratory in this context. Sample collection does not need to be supervised by the clinician and can be performed in the privacy of the bathroom or behind a curtain. Routine genital inspection is not recommended unless there is another clinical indication for this.(47)

To perform a self-collected CST, advise patients to find a comfortable position and remove their underwear. Twist the cap and remove the swab from the protective sheath. The tip of the swab should be gently inserted a few centimetres into their vagina and gently rotated for 10-30 seconds. The swab can then be removed and placed back into the packaging and returned to their healthcare professional.

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