Women Drive Change by Opting Out of Pap Tests

1297526685268_ORIGINALWomen have huge purchasing power and when women stop buying a bad product it tends to disappear from store shelves.  This pattern might extend to the pap smear as more and more women are opting out of this questionable method of screening for cervical cancer.  Some evidence suggests that women undergoing pap testing has declined by 48% in the past ten years.  In other words, in comparison to ten years ago only about half as many women today are ‘buying’ pap tests.  And the falling numbers may just be enough to drive change.

The FDA is reacting, and on March 12, 2014, will meet to decide on the implementation of HPV screening as the primary method to screen for cervical cancer.  Years worth of research indicates that using HPV testing as the primary method to screen for cervical cancer has many advantages over pap testing:

  • HPV testing is more accurate
  • HPV testing allows those women who wish to screen to go for intervals of 5 years between tests
  • Far fewer women would be subjected to over-diagnosis and over-treatment
  • HPV testing is more humane as there are many options for self-testing, thus allowing women to keep their cloths on and their feet out of the stirrups

For input into the FDA’s decision the contact is:

Shanika Craig, Center for Devices and Radiological Health, Food and Drug Administration, 10903 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20993, Shanika.Craig@fda.hhs.gov

FDA Advisory Committee meeting: http://www.fda.gov/AdvisoryCommittees/Calendar/ucm381983.htm

Women are looking beyond the propaganda and are discovering the facts; cervical cancer is rare and the pap test is an inaccurate method of screening for it.  More women are also aware they have the right to informed consent and this means they are “allowed” to say “no”.  The pap test is simply a bad product, and as a poster on this blog has said “as we all know, when you’re looking for a needle in a haystack with a defective pitchfork, well, it’s all a bit futile, and we harm heaps, now we can identify the handful at actual risk, but choose not to, too much money is made harming the masses” (Elizabeth, Australia). More women are becoming informed and have stopped buying pap tests – and women’s choices are driving some very welcome and long overdue change.

For more information and references on this topic: http://forwomenseyesonly.com/2013/08/20/references-and-education-pap-testing-and-other-womens-health-topics/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10118303/New-screening-test-cuts-cervical-cancer-cases-by-one-third.html

http://forwomenseyesonly.com/2013/09/22/discussion-forum/

About forwomenseyesonly

Hi. My name is Sue and I am interested in promoting holistic and respectful health care.
Gallery | This entry was posted in cervical cancer, feminist, gynecology, health, HPV testing, pap test, pelvic exam and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to Women Drive Change by Opting Out of Pap Tests

  1. Kai says:

    About time! There’s not much I hate more than sheeple.

  2. Thanks for posting! I didn’t know anything about pap smears being ineffective/ there being other, better ways to test for cervical cancer.

    -C

  3. Moo says:

    Attention Americam women!!! The link to FDA advisory meeting says the March 12, 2014 will have a primary HPV testing device approval on the agenda. The contact information for YOUR input is there. YOUR opportunity to participate and give your opinions.

    Please find out if this device can be used as a self test or urine test and NOT have to be done with a pap or pelvic exam. women know what they want.

    • Moo says:

      Apparently this device is not intended as a self test or urine test. It is a test used with a pap test. So just another HPV test that you have to get a pap with. Get the message across that is not what I want.

      What about WE THE PEOPLE ? That includes WOMEN who are patients, who do not want a pap and who VOTE. Democracy works.

      I am 100% Canadian so I cannot petition the FDA. If you are American you can.

  4. mgpr2013 says:

    I’m interested to know people’s thoughts on HPV positive with abnormal results on pap (ASCUS – the lowest abnormal result). I don’t know if I want to go for colposcopy. I want to give my body the chance to clear the virus on its own.

  5. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Hi mgpr2013
    I just responded to Marnie Parsons, you might want to read my response.
    Basically ASCUS is nothing to worry about, it’s not even a low grade lesion. I’d be careful agreeing to a colposcopy and biopsy for ASCUS, it’s overkill, women in this situation usually re-test the following year and find they produce a normal pap test. False positives are quite common with pap testing, very common if you over-screen.
    Also, most women clear HPV within a year or two.
    Certainly ASCUS is viewed as a bit of a joke in evidence based medicine, equivalent to, “look the other way, the bogey man is coming”, it may scare you, but there is nothing to worry about.
    I’d urge you to do your research, then you can make an informed decision.
    Don’t let them rush you into anything…
    Welcome to the forum.

  6. From a few hours ago: FDA Advisory Committee Unanimously Recommends Roche’s HPV Test as Primary Screening Tool for Detection of Women at High Risk for Cervical Cancer http://www.wthr.com/story/24959688/fda-advisory-committee-unanimously-recommends-roches-hpv-test-as-primary-screening-tool-for-detection-of-women-at-high-risk-for-cervical-cancer

  7. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    It should be the primary screening test for all woman who want to test…and 25 is too young, there will be lots of young HPV+ women needlessly worried and no doubt, many harmed. It should be from age 30. Curious they refer to “high risk” for cervix cancer when we know HPV+ means you have a small risk of cervical cancer…but all the risk factors in the world amount to nothing if you’re HPV-
    On so many websites they list all the risk factors for cc, misleading because being HPV+ and aged 30 or more gives you all the information you need. Smoking, multiple sexual partners etc. may expose you to a higher risk from STIs and lung cancer, but you have nothing to fear from cc if you’re HPV-
    I think the waters are deliberately muddied, they don’t want women to know it’s actually quite simple: aged 30+ and HPV+ or HPV-
    Of course, they’re not really sure why a small number of women develop cc, it could be HPV+ and you smoke, or have a compromised immune system, but the risk factors only become a possible factor when you’re HPV+
    Amazing though this information is unavailable to women unless they read articles on HPV Today, look at Dutch websites etc. Great lengths are gone to IMO, to protect the excess, don’t want to let the herd run free.

    • ladyprotips says:

      Well, saying it’s all about the woman being HPV+ and over 30 is simplifying it a bit too much. Cervical cancer is rare, and in order to effectively screen for it, providers have to narrow down groups of women to try to identify those with the highest risk. Yes, lifetime risk is .65%, but that is an average. For certain groups that is going to be much higher (HIV+ people), and for certain groups it’s going to be even lower (monogamous for 10+ years). I’ll make up two examples:

      A 27 year old woman comes to me. She has never smoked, eats an organic diet, and exercises regularly. She and her husband have never been with anyone but each other. Sure, I’ll talk about cervical cancer and screening with her because she has a right to know about it, but I’m going to recommend against it pretty strongly.

      A 20 year old comes to me. She has been sexually active since age 12 with multiple partners and has been smoking multiple packs a day since then. Her diet is mainly fast food, she doesn’t exercise, she is constantly sick, and she has endometriosis. I’m going to talk to her about cervical cancer screening, and I’m going to strongly suggest we start before 30.

      Yes, the majority of cervical cancer cases happen in women over 30, and a very small number of women under 30 die from cc. Now, the answer to this is neither “Screen everyone all the time from the second they find their vagina!” nor “Never screen anyone under 30 ever.” The answer is to try to identify the women under 30 who are most likely to be in that small group who get cervical cancer (HPV +, smoking, bad immune system). My mother, for example, had two paps before she was 25-one at 19, and one at 24. The one at 19 came back clear (they expected it to), and the one at 24 came back with squamous cell carcinoma (my father diagnosed it). My mother had endometriosis, smoked heavily, had had multiple partners, and had severe vaginal abnormalities. Frankly, I think pap testing someone with all of those issues is a logical answer.

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        Hi LadyPT
        It doesn’t happen that way though, does it?
        I’ve never been asked any personal questions by a doctor, like, how many partners have you had? Are you monogamous? I know American doctors ask all sorts of highly personal questions, but honestly, I’d decline to answer them and might even pen off a letter of complaint. Mind your own business as the starting point.

        I think the way this program should have worked (and it couldn’t work this way because of the numbers that must screen when you’re trying to prevent a rare cancer: so IMO, it was always known this program could not operate ethically and legally, so it should never have been a population screening program) was to respect women as competent adults and observe the law and proper ethical standards. Informed consent.
        Instead we were all just expected to file in like ignorant sheep, I know our screening authority constantly plots ways to “capture” women. Beyond offensive.

        I was able to make an informed decision over 30 years ago because I took myself off to the Medical Library on campus and read everything I could get my hands on and I spoke to several academics. Most women cannot make an informed decision because we’ve never been provided with balanced and complete information.
        My decision was based on my low risk profile. I also, viewed the test itself as unacceptable, and I was aware at that time that false positives were a concern. I found out the horrifying truth a decade or so later when a *study appeared: 77% is the lifetime risk of referral, it all made sense.
        *safely locked away in a medical journal

        Over the years women in lifetime mutually monogamous relationships have asked the Q: do I really need pap tests? The official answer is always YES, more recently they might add: you might have been infected before you met your husband or your husband might be unfaithful, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry? No mention is made of the rareness of the cancer or our very high over-treatment rates, even a high risk woman has a low risk of cc. Rare is rare. The true significance of HPV is never mentioned, either to draw more women into testing by saying, “almost everyone is infected at some point”.

        Also, I can’t agree with testing teenagers or young women is ever a good thing, the evidence does not support it. I firmly believe that screening programs should follow the evidence and properly advise women of risk and actual benefits.
        After decades of testing not one country can show a reduction in incidence or mortality in those under 30, regardless of screening. The very rare case that occurs in a young woman usually occurs whether you screen or not, also, pap testing may disadvantage these cases, false reassurance after a false negative pap test and a delay in seeing a doctor with symptoms.
        The Finns and Dutch don’t test those under 30 for their own protection and advise young women to see a doctor if they develop P&U symptoms, I think that’s the right approach. Note these countries have excluded those under 30 for decades and have better health outcomes than countries that horribly over-screen, like Australia and the States. Young women produce the most false positives, 1 in 3 for those under 25, and that can mean day procedure and damage to LOTS of healthy bodies and minds.

        We can now identify the roughly 5% who are HPV+ (and aged between 30 and 60) these are the only women who should be offered a 5 yearly pap test, they have a small chance of benefiting. The critical question, in my opinion, is not, how many sexual partners do you have BUT, are you HPV+ or HPV-?
        That’s the first step, then smoking, multiple strains of hrHPV, being immune compromised etc. probably determines who would be most likely to develop CC.

        So I would consider a doctor doing a pap test on a teenager to be incompetent, unethical, perverse or playing it safe (for the doctor) and following a non-evidence based program.
        The teenager example: it’s unlikely a GP would have that information, but if they identified the girl in those terms it would be helpful to cover contraception, smoking and safe sex and advise them to see a GP promptly with P&U symptoms. (for a proper investigation, not a pap test)
        I know young women who’ve produced very abnormal pap tests and the test was normal a year later, of course, it serves to scare young women into future compliance and gets them on-board from an early age so it becomes “a habit”…and we end up with lots more survivors with those who believe the pap test saved their life, which is rarely the case. Some doctors want to test young women so they can also, do sneaky STI testing. This is unethical, you provide women with the information they need and leave them to make their own decisions, and make it easy for them: non-invasive options, no judgment etc.
        Instead of DOING things TO women, we should empower them with the information they need to make the best health decision, (for each individual) why is that so hard a concept for medical professionals to grasp? (speaking generally…)
        Personal responsibility is a factor too, I take full responsibility for the decisions I make, the medical profession has always struggled IMO, with that concept, and prefers to make decisions FOR us. Denying us balanced information and with no respect for informed consent means screening is DONE to us and that’s unacceptable.

        I don’t envy you working in the area, it’s an ugly mess, but you have an opportunity to change attitudes within the profession and hopefully, that will flow into changing practices. I think change will occur as more women demand something better or walk away and get on with their lives. (and as more stand up to coercion etc.)

        Thanks for your comments, I always enjoy speaking to those who work within the profession, it’s an opportunity to communicate and build bridges. We’ll effect change faster attacking the problem both ways.

  8. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/75D9B3943FBCAE6CCA2574EB007F73B5/$File/hpv.PDF
    This is the official booklet on HPV in Australia, you’ll see they’ve used most of the facts, but have been careful to protect the pap testing program and to hide the true significance of HPV.
    We tell women HPV testing is not recommended before age 30, fine, we skip over the obvious Q: what about older women? And we say it’s most helpful checking treated women, so protecting over-treatment. The best use of the HPV test is as the primary screening test for women aged 30 and older.
    So IMO, we protect the program, over-screening, outdated population pap testing and awful over-treatment/excess biopsy rates.
    Any woman relying on this information has been misled, IMO…by omission, failing to mention HPV- women are not at risk, cannot benefit from pap testing and could simply re-test in 5 or 10 years time. (or forget about any further testing if they’re no longer sexually active or confidently monogamous) AND women could even test themselves for HPV.
    IMO, all carefully put together to protect the program, not women. Misleading women is an art form in this country.

  9. Moo says:

    The only difference with the Roche cobas test from previously available co pap HPV tests is that this one has three possible positive results: positive for HPV 16 and/or positive for HPV 18 and/or positive for 14 other high risk HPV strains. This is just and add-on to the vaccine which only protects against 16 and 18. Some pre market planning involved?

    So doctors will still need a pap to use this product. It would be pushed even on vaccinated women.

    Population control is behind all this as well as greed. No one could tell American women not to have too many children but put a cancer scare behind it. The push will be to vaccinate and “treat” poor women into infertility next.

  10. Look at this misguided article about what to expect on your first gyno visit at http://www.medicaldaily.com/gynecology-exam-guide-what-expect-your-first-gyno-visit-271212. I commented, but I do not know if my comments will be approve.

    Misty

    • Alex says:

      I don’t like how they try to get on someone’s side with that article. It’s like they’re with you, but also pushing you into it. They flat-out say that this is something she SHOULD do- which implies that not having this done to her is something she should NOT do.

      Not one mention of it being entirely your choice whether you have one of these tests, any of the risks, any of the inaccuracies, or any of the financial incentives that are a conflict of interest to your health. Never mentioned that having a problem with the mechanics of a medical situation is NOT immature. They slip in all that stuff about this being a dreadful situation, but never mention NOT doing all these things because of that- it’s as if they’re deliberately omitting that personal alignment is a factor in decision-making.

    • Moo says:

      The article is not up to date medically. Breast exams are not necessary for young women for one. It is more propaganda than medical advice.

      The author cannot even use the terms vagina, cervix or uterus but instead used some slang term. Just like the pamphlet that was given to me before my first pap that said the “natural sweat of my vagina” was going to be collected not saying how or why.

      It always puzzled me that when getting married I was urged to get a check up to make sure I was healthy. I asked if I could get my fertility checked and then told it was not available. Even now after trying to get pregnant for years, fertility tests are not available without my submission into the Pap test mill. Of course STD tests are done during pelvic exams not that they ever ask or tell any women.

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        Yet they don’t ask men to have a health check before they get married, do they?

        Routine breast exams are not recommended for any symptom-free woman, regardless of her age, I know these exams are still pushed in some countries, but it’s pure excess, just another way of getting women into the consult room. It’s about profits, not healthcare, in fact, they risk our health. (anxiety, excess biopsies etc.)

        It seems the system is obsessed with our bodies and feel they have the right to make assumptions about us and our partners, and to force. mislead or coerce us into cancer screening and excess/non-evidence based testing. It will be up to individual women to make them understand, “my body is my body” …they do not have a right to violate our rights and personal space.
        Also, I’m sure many doctors still use the Pill to force and mislead women into pap testing: “you’ll be needing a pap test” etc. The real test is: the woman refuses and gets up to leave, it would be a foolish doctor who’d allow her to leave without her script, a try-on can backfire and get you into trouble. Many women don’t know a pap test etc. is unnecessary for the Pill or feels uncomfortable/immature etc. challenging the doctor so the “requirement” continues in some/many consult rooms.

    • Finnuala says:

      I find this article truly shocking!Having lived in the UK and now NZ where this doesn’t happen.Poor American ladies.I think the time has come for you to offer to shove the speculum up the Gyno!

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        Finnuala
        Welcome to the forum.
        I read your other comment and wanted to congratulate you.
        Making an informed screening decision is the best decision, and you’re able to protect and guide your daughter at the same time. So many women pressure their daughters to test trusting the official discourse, they “think” they’re doing the right thing by their daughters, when that’s not the case.
        This testing worries and harms lots of young women, those under 30 produce the most false positives of any age group and that often means an excess biopsy or “treatment”.
        Thanks to this testing many young women will end up with a weakened or damaged cervix or carry psychological issues. Testing does not benefit those under 30 and now we know it doesn’t benefit those HPV- and that’s 95% of women aged 30+
        HPV primary testing is not recommended for those under 30 either, HPV infections are fairly common in those under 30, almost all will simply clear the virus within a year or two.
        It’s a shame not more women take the time to do some reading, review the “information” critically, it’s a rare gift to your daughter. Armed with real information she can make better screening decisions and it also, enables her to make her own informed decisions and stand up to pressure from other women, doctors etc.
        Sadly, many screened women go on to have health and obstetric issues as a result of an early and completely unnecessary/unhelpful pap test.

  11. Kleigh says:

    I never understud that idea that woman need to have an exam befor they get married? Is it to cheek to see if we are healthy enuf to have sex. If its about spreeding an std why dont they push men to get cheeked too. It makes no logical sense to me. Other than it could be based on outdated ideas about womans bodies.

    • Alex says:

      I don’t think a pelvic exam is connected to getting married- it used to be in the Cold war. Get this: The reasoning (supposedly) was that this would determine if the woman would like sex, and that would mean that her & her husband would have a good sex life, this would lead to a stronger marriage, this would lead to a stronger society, and a stronger country. This was in America, by-the-way. You know, the country that always talks about being free & not being tyrannical?

      Someone being penetrated in an imposed situation is somehow going to determine how much that person would like a concensual situation? Not true. An added point is that something of that nature, whether done in a low-key manner or not, would more than likely cause problems in their sex life.

      If they were worried about STDs, I’d figure they’d bring up blood & urine tests. Apparently, those DO detect diseases whereas other tests do not. I doubt that they worry about that, though- unless maybe they’re worried about catching something if they molest someone in their sleep?

  12. Kleigh says:

    My question is where is the data to back all these “vital” exams up. It like made up junk that everybody just belives to be true and never questions.

  13. Hexanchus says:

    Glad I found where everyone landed – it’s been a while!

    Perhaps the FDA finding will finally start to push the pap test into history. but given the lack of compliance by doctors with previous recommendations like extended pap testing intervals, but I’m not holding my breath……..

    It does, however, give patients another weapon to use to force the issue. Further, according to an article in the Annals of Oncology in the Oxford Journal, “A benefit of HPV testing with potentially far-reaching implications is that a speculum examination is not needed for collection of vaginal specimens, which appear to be as accurate as cervical specimens for HPV detection”.

    Hex

    • Moo says:

      So then why do American citizens not contact the FDA ( write, email, phone) and demand that HPV tests be made available without pelvic exams either by urine tests or self swabs. Theses do exist and the self swabs are available and used for years in other countries.

      There must be some “behind closed door agreements” with manufacturers, the FDA and medication associations, otherwise manufacturers would be putting out such devices to the American market and asking the FDA for their approval.

      Government agencies are run by politicians more than scientists. So really why aren’t they giving the “people” what they want? Remind them that American is a democracy. They should be listening to what citizens want, not rich lobbyist groups.

      Is there somewhere in the FDA archives some document that says “do not approve any self testing device for cervical cancer or HPV that can be used without a pelvic exam or Pap test”? Get someone on the phone and grill them with that. Responsible government is supposed to be responsible to whom?

      I am not an American but even I know the “We the people……” That every American child learns by heart in school. I read it on a plaque by the Hudson River. I was impressed. So live the dream.

      No problem about finding scientific studies to prove your point either. There are plenty around that can support HPV urine testing and self swabs as being effective.

      • Hexanchus (male-US) says:

        Moo,

        I agree the patient may need to get a little assertive, but this gives them the science based ammunition to do so – statements to doctor:
        1. FDA says HPV test is better.
        2. Multiple research articles prove that vaginal swab is just as effective in detecting HPV as cervical swab.
        3. If I choose to test, I am perfectly capable of doing that without your observation or intervention, or an invasive exam.
        4. If you have a problem going along with that, I’ll either find a physician that will or choose to forgo testing completely.

        If enough women stand up to them and stick to their guns in doing so, maybe the medical providers will start to get the message……

  14. Moo says:

    Why is there no consumer use test for HPV available in Canada or USA? There are self tests available for BV (bacterial vaginosis), there are self treatments for vaginal yeast infections, self pregnancy tests, ovulation tests available at every drug store and Walmart. These are ALL FDA approved.

  15. bojasna says:

    This is all good, but the Pap test is showing whether we have HPV or not including the other bacteria and changes as well. If we buy only the HPV test we can be certain only about one thing.

    • Kate (UK) says:

      What utter nonsense, Bosanja! Bacteria? Sheesh…
      The pap test is NOT a health check. It is just a scraping of skin cells. These cells are then examined under the microscope to see if they look *normal* or not. That is all. The cytologists reading the slides are not looking for infections or bacteria, their job is to examine the skin cells collected. Of course, if an infection – such as thrush – is present they will find it. This usually means you must be retested at a later date when the infection is cleared, because any kind of infection will usually irritate the skin and thus cause the cells to look *abnormal*, or the infection may simply contaminate the sample making it unreadable.
      In fact, there are many reasons why the skin *down there* can change and look *suspicious*. Irritation, inflammation, hormonal fluctuations… thus, the test provides a huge amount of false alarms, suggesting that you may have *pre-cancerous* changes when you have nothing of the sort. Of course women are NEVER told this and are led to believe that an *abnormal* result must mean there is something wrong with them.

      I repeat; an *abnormal* pap does NOT necessarily mean you have HPV. Even if you do, most HPV will be cleared by your own immune system in due course anyway.
      Here in the UK, any pap tests which show minor changes (ASCUS) undergo further testing to discover if the sample is HPV positive. Most are not.

      BTW, most infections – including HPV – can be checked via swabs, urine or blood tests. It is NOT necessary to scrape skin off an internal organ to check for the presence of HPV. Doctors continue to promote the horribly unreliable pap testing over primary HPV testing because it makes them more money.

      And the moon is not made of cheese.

      • Alex says:

        So it’s skin on an organ? I thought it was an organ surface (like with the stomach & how people get ulcers?). Never heard that. One has to wonder what they consider abnormal? Maybe they have some kind of quota? That’s a conflict of interest, sure- but so are financial incentives & those exist.

        Got a good laugh about the moon not being made of cheese, by-the-way.

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        Well said Kate and exactly right, but the post you were responding to highlights how little women understand about the test. It’s not their fault, we’ve never received balanced information, in fact, the system has gone out of it’s way to mislead us. Of course, some women are guilty of willful blindness when it comes to this test, they know it all (when they don’t) and won’t be convinced otherwise by you, me, the BMJ, the NEJM or the Lancet. These women are sadly, beyond reach.

      • Moo says:

        Now that we understand the basics of pap testing, let us move on to some logic that I have yet seen few medical professionals answer about HPV testing and Pap tests.

        HPV is spread by skin to skin contact or what have been in contact with infected skin. So a finger that touched infected skin and then into someone else. The virus gets into the skin layer through microabrasions caused by sexual activity, using tampons AND the scraping of Pap tests.

        If a women who already has HPV infection the. The Pap test spatula is going to spread it around more and then when a brush is used it is going to push it up the cervical canal. Where are all the adenocarcinomas? In the cervical canal? How might HPV get there is a women has never given birth?

        Also because a vagina is classed as being covered with a mucous membrane,that is skin layer, it is deemed that equipment going there does not have to be sterile. So no sterile speculum, gloves, swabs, spatula or brushes are used. Just think about going to the dentist. Would you let your dentist or hygienist use unsterile equipment in your mouth? Your mouth and gum also have a skin layer. So why is the dental equipment sterilized and the medical equipment not? Also scopes used for colonoscopies cannot be sterilized. Even equipment used for colposcopies and cervical biopsies do not HAVE to be sterilized.

        Think about it. McDonald’s but paper coverings over their straws to ensure cleanliness. Whereas a doctor will wet an Unsterile speculum in a sink that they use to wash their dirty hands after examining patient after patient.

      • ADM (Canada) says:

        The amount of misinformation out there about the pap that is considered fact is shocking. But it shows how much women have not made informed decisions about this test. The information I know is through my own research because a Dr never discussed me with what the test was and what it tested for. I was just told I had to have it.
        The pap smear checks for abnormal cells on the cervix. That is all. In fact it shouldn’t be called a cancer screening test because it isn’t checking for cancer but for cells that could become cancer. Emphasis on could. It does not check for HPV or vaginal cancer or uterine cancer or ovarian cancer or yeast infections or STIs. Women I have told this too have been shocked and many thought it tested for some or all of those things. That shows they did not make an informed decision about getting paps.
        I agree that many women are beyond reach. I recently read a comment by a woman who said that one of the things that sucks about being a woman is having to go to the yearly gynecologist physicals. It obviously has not occurred to her that she doesn’t have to go. But if given the information and the choice not to go she likely would still go because of the fear that has been perpetuated about gyne cancers.

  16. Kate (UK) says:

    Alex,
    It may be oversimplifying things, but essentially, yes.
    Here’s my reasoning;
    The most common form of CC is ‘Squamous Cell Carcinoma’.
    Squamous cells are found in the surface of the skin, the lining of the hollow organs of the body, and the lining of the respiratory and digestive tracts. Pretty much everywhere, in fact.
    The vagina is lined with squamous cells, as is the endocervix. Considering all the trauma that can occur to the cervix during it’s lifetime – even sex can cause bruising, never mind childbirth! – it makes sense that it’s provided with armour!
    If you get Squamous Cell Carcinoma on your face, it’s classed as skin cancer.
    HPV is transmitted by skin contact.
    Therefore, during a pap test they are scraping away skin cells. And there I rest my case.

    I’m sure a medic would argue with that, we’re regularly told (here in the UK at least) that they’re collecting ‘skin-like’ cells. But then medics class a pap test as non-invasive – I beg to differ!

    Ah, yes, the moon… I can’t control my sarcasm when sheeple are in town. ;)

    • Alex says:

      Kleigh- I guess the thought is connected by subject? If something is associated with a general area, it all gets mentally linked? Just like if a problem is something only a woman can get, then someone thinks that it’s likely for a woman to get it.

      Kate (UK)- Yeah, I know what you mean about “sheeple.” I’ve noticed a “wind-up toy” mentality with a lot of things, lately. It’s called being “doctrine bound.” It happens a lot in the military, apparently.

  17. Kleigh says:

    This is so common. So many woman I know think paps are for cheeking of infection and other womans problems. My family member had a histerectomy and has no cervix but she think she can still be help by paps bc she still has her overies and thinks a pap will cheeck for cancer there. It really is sick. I have never herd of doctors hear in the states explan to woman what a pap is screening for. They just say i am gona do a pap smear and leave the woman in the dark. They want ignorant sheep to comply. Also hear we have the annuall well woman exam wich so many woman think they have to have in order to stay healthy.

  18. Moo says:

    Yes women are told they need the “well woman” exam even if they are not getting a pap that year (pap every three years for some). So really what is going. To happen In that exam? They might turn into a sick woman so that their doctor can peddle more drugs. They are going to be told to get blood tests, urine tests. They are going to get a breast exam they probably do not need and a pelvic exam. They might be told that they have a cytocele or rectocele that is not bothering them. They might be told that they have fibroids, polyps or genitals warts that are never going to cause them harm. She will get weighed and told she is too fat.

    While this is not really an anti medical website, I might point out that one of the only really usefulness test might be a diabetes screening. However I think that diabetes diagnosis is overdone now because certain levels were lowered so borderline are treated.

    The health prevention being pushed is all about medicalizing everyone and not promoting healthy lifestyles and nutrition and health awareness such as signs of diabetes or other issues. I have heard doctors scoffing at taking vitamin supplements and dismissing herbal and natural remedies are bunk.

    If insurance paid for naturopathic medicine and nutritional counselling, more people would use it and likely stay healthier.

  19. Kleigh says:

    Also i have noticed the Acog has been adding new screening to be done during the well woman exam. Like all woman are being screened for domestic violance and all woman are to be treated pre pregnant and be pushed to take prenatals. Its as tho the acog id playing nany state. There is a controling factor that really bugs me about “woman health”.

    • Alex says:

      So what is that “domestic violence” screening? Are they just adding in rape kits now? I’ve got to wonder how many guys are going to get locked-up because of their misdiagnoses. That happens with everything else, so why not that? I guess this will be an avenue to get women to have counseling & maybe anti-depressants or some such for an attack that didn’t happen, but apparently she’s in denial of.

      They act like her partner is the enemy, when in reality they just want her to have as little support against them as possible. I really think that fending off medical advances should now be included in women’s self-defense. It really doeesn’t have to be abuse in the GUISE of medical care, it can be abuse in the COURSE of medical care (or, rather, influence- because it’s not always “care” i n the sense of assistance & benefits).

      • Kleigh says:

        Alex , Doctors are being told to ask woman if they are being abused. And also this is another reson why they want woman alone. It also puts woman in a bad postion. And just another reson to tell woman to have a well woman exam every year.

  20. Liz Marie says:

    I think the Pap smear test has its place, but I completely agree that the reliance on its efficacy is out of control! Abnormal? Ohhh you need a colpo, Leep, etc. This is a little crazy. That is why I recommend getting a second test done. femefavor ;)

  21. Liz Marie says:

    I’m also curious, where does it say in the british article how the specimen is collected at home? This is a great idea, but being a health professional myself I am always conscious of the true efficacy.

  22. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    “HPV testing allows those women who wish to screen to go for intervals of 5 years between tests”

    AND 10 years in older women, the Dutch will offer HPV primary testing or self-testing at 30,35,40,50 and 60 and many women will test only once, those HPV- and no longer sexually active. I’d also, include those who are confidently monogamous, very few in the medical world agree though, they all seem to assume it’s safer for these women to test because there is always the risk the man will be unfaithful. Surely that’s our call. None of their business.
    Many women are in lifetime mutually monogamous relationships, but are still pressured into pap testing. Many women in this category don’t understand the test is risk for no benefit for them. The profession has always been careful to keep as much real information as possible away from women…they want to include all women. (easier to reach targets, collect target payments, they assume it’s safer etc.)

  23. Moo says:

    A recent newspaper article had the head of cancercare Ontario says that HPV tests should be frontline. Of course she also tried to save her job by saying that HPV tests could be done from the Pap test media and it “saved for later” analysis if HPV was positive. Just proves they do not believe their own lies.

    Why wasn’t she asking for a self HPV test to be approved by health canada? The HPV test used in Ontario is also not funded by public insurance but the Pap test is. So why isn’t she pushing for the HPV test to be funded then?

  24. I found this article at http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/04/16/parents-question-if-girls-are-visiting-gynecologist-too-early/ disturbing. I am glad that some parents have questioned the need for teenage girls to visit a gynecologist. There is no reason for a teenage girl to visit a gyn unless she has some problems.

    Misty

    • Kleigh says:

      A friend of mines said that her grandaughters need to have the hpv vac, because her daughter there mother had an abnormal pap smear. This is just terible. So now it a mother has an abnormal pap that has nothing to do with her daughters and now wants to push them to have paps at an erly age. There so many woman who know nothing about hpv or pap smears.

  25. lizrwriter@aol.comi says:

    I decided to put my own health in my own hands and ordered an HPV test from South Africa. it was easy to do and I received the test results week later, all negative. I do not want any doctor turning me into a hand puppet and treating me like a car that needs a lube job. More and more women need to know about these home tests and their high level of accuracy. now I just have to convince the dr on my next visit that what I did was fine. I also cannot wait to get into the debate about why I get harmless and again more accurate thermograms over the harmful and scary mammograms. We have to push like hell to get rid of these antiquated 20th century screenings and move into a more enlightened 21 st Century. what is being done to women is no different than putting leeches or bleeding them as they did in past centuries.

    • Moo says:

      Thermograms are harmless but might detect tumors that will never kill a women and result in over treatment. The thermogram is so harmless that it could be used at frequent intervals to monitor tumors though. So watch and wait would be easy. I agree that mammograms are harmful and I am not getting one unless I need a diagnostic test for a mass found on self exam.

      HPV tests are only available in my country as a cotest for a pap done by a health professional. They are also not currently covered by public insurance so a woman wanting them will have to pay out of pocket. Surprise if she does and gets a positive them she is referred to colposcopy. A self HPV test is not available and I have heard that it is difficult to import into the country. Please could anyone tell me if they got a slef HPV test sent to them in Canada?

  26. lizrwriter@aol.com says:

    if your thermographer sees any dangerous red spots , they can recommend a second opinion. And will monitor you closely Some are holistic drs and will recommend a sugarless,wheat less and meatless diet. The HPV test comes put of South Africa from Udoit.com. the cost is about 60 US dollars and they will also give you a plastic and sealable envelope to return it. everyone look over the UDoit.com site. worth the money and worth not going through that God awful ordeal

  27. Moo says:

    What makes the rate of cervical cancer in RSA so high is the AIDS epidemic. This is really a shame. Probably people there need more H IV testing, treatments and prevention than Pap tests.

  28. Moo says:

    This article only shows that what is keeping women from getting their comfortable, private HPV test at home is ignorance and greed. One “expert” is quoted that while the HPV test is more accurate than the pap, it is too expensive right now. If it were used on a mass basis the cost for an HPV test would be around $5. (And obviously that would not be an HPV test done in a doctor’s office along with a pap). Also some other “experts” do not seem to know about HPV self testing devices used in other countries for years at all. It’s that their job to know?

    http://www.eve-medical.com/globe-and-mail-hpv-test-tops-pap-in-cervical-cancer-detection/

    • ADM (Canada) says:

      They admit that the pap is inaccurate (of course skewed to the point of false negatives to incite fear with no mention of false positives) and they admit that CC is rare but we’re still supposed to get yearly gynecological exams. Which also ignores the evidence that pelvic and breast exams are of low clinical value and the province of Ontario no longer covers the yearly physical because it was found to be of low clinical value. When will this obsession with a rare cancer end and the focus and money shifted to real issues.

      • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

        I fear the answer there is when more women reject the thinking behind “women’s healthcare”. If you read through some of the US gyn health forums you see lots of posts from women concerned about ovarian cysts, some have had past “treatment” or surgery etc. to check the “abnormality”.
        Mary and I have commented about this worry and it makes my point, Australian, UK and other women don’t worry about ovarian cysts because we don’t know about them, we don’t have routine pelvic exams and many of us know ovarian cysts are usually perfectly normal, part of ovulation. So something normal is turned into something possibly sinister.

        The RPE is not a screening test for ovarian cancer.
        Some US doctors play on the fear, “the cyst might have been something, but you’re okay this time” this close call is often enough to keep women climbing into the stirrups every year.
        This is medical dishonesty designed to keep women under gyn “care” for the interests of others, certainly not women.

        Once women view their asymptomatic body as perfectly normal, to be respected and protected, you are much less likely to allow routine medical meddling.
        I’m a firm believer in the saying, “if it’s not broken, leave it alone”.

        Of course, there are things that people might consider, blood pressure, one fairly small study showed the benefit of regular BPT. (especially for older people and women on the Pill) Because of the highly unethical practice of tying the Pill consult to pap testing and other unrelated exams more women are getting the Pill online and may not have regular BPTs, so an ACTUAL clinical requirement is not carried out due to pressure to have an elective and unrelated cancer screening test. (that benefits VERY few and exposes every woman to fairly high risk from false positives, excess biopsies and over-treatment)

        It’s so clear none of this is actually about better healthcare, and is more about control and using women to maximize profits, grab political brownie points etc.
        Otherwise we would not put unnecessary and potentially harmful barriers around the Pill, drive women out of healthcare….that may mean unplanned pregnancies, miscarriages etc. “self-managing” things like diabetes, asthma and migraine headaches.
        Women’s healthcare needs to change….and become healthcare, instead of medical abuse. The obsession with controlling women needs to be challenged at every turn, informed consent and consent itself matters, it’s a major reason why women are exposed to so much risk in their dealings with the medical profession.
        The main reason we’re seeing change IMO, is because more women are leaving the herd, we have the power to change a dysfunctional system.

      • Moo says:

        A high school students invented a blood test for ovarian, pancreatic and another cancer. He did it in 7 months. Sorry there is no excuse that for years doctors felt they needed to do pelvic exams to detect ovarian cysts when ultrasounds were avaiable for women who had symptoms, otherwise please leave us alone.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Andraka

        Come on, who do they think they are fooling. Cancer is a big business. I am surprised that some big pharma did not spot this kid earlier and pay him off not to publish his research. Believe me, it happens. Companies buy research and suppress it.

      • ADM (Canada) says:

        There is no excuse as to why there are not less invasive methods. The only reason I can think of is the underlying misogyny that exists in our society and in the medical field. I remember reading someplace about a Dr who stated that in medical school she had been told that women’s sex organs were pre-cancer and therefore they needed to be monitored. It’s that type of attitude that we are up against. Then add in money and it becomes a system that is not going to change anytime soon.

        Personally I do not believe in routine cancer screenings even if it is just a blood test. The evidence is not there to support it. This article from 2003 states: “It found no evidence, for example, that routine pelvic, rectal and testicular exams made any difference in overall survival rates for those with no symptoms of illness. It warned that such tests can lead to false alarms, necessitating a round of expensive and sometimes risky follow-up tests. And even many tests that are useful, like cholesterol and blood pressure checks, need not be done every year, it said in reports to doctors, policy makers and the public.” http://www.nytimes.com/2003/08/12/health/annual-physical-checkup-may-be-an-empty-ritual.html
        All screening comes with risk of false positives and there is no evidence showing that catching something early means a cure. I believe it was Gilbert Welch who discussed that with screening and catching it early death rates from some cancers have not declined.

        In the 1970s and 1980s, both the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination and the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommended against the yearly physical and yet many Drs ignored that until recently and some still recommend the yearly physical particularly the gyne exam. Until my new Dr I was told I needed one but I was “allowed” to skip it for a year.

  29. Kleigh says:

    I caught that too about the false positves that r more common and lead to destruction. I dont trust them they r looking out for money. on the view I remember a cast member mentioned false positves and was told not to say that by the guest gyno talking about mamograms. He said we dont say that i guess afread woman will find out the truth and as tho it was worth it to find cancer. These people are lieing and misleading woman. I will not be taking my child to a gyn when i start a family.

    • Alex says:

      Kleigh: What was all this, a T.V. show? They said on the air “Oh, don’t mention that”? Isn’t it sweet when they make an honest declaration of their wants? They just make an ernest request for someone to not fuck up their happy little things?

      You know, I was watching South Park the other night & I thought something applied (bear with me- it’s not what you think). This was the episode where the parents hire actors to pose as the kids’ future selves to get them to not do drugs. There was one scene where the guy from the company they were hiring from was talking & he was saying it was okay to lie about the effects of different things to get people to stop doing them. The thing is though, is that some of the lies were the point of not doing them (they’d be saying “don’t do it because of this”- which they made up as an issue to circumvent).

      So I thought to myself : “Maybe in order to get the situation of imposing these things on people to happen, they’ve got to lie.” I truly believe it to be, at it’s inception & orchestration, an attack as a goal & this facilitates it. Doesn’t have to be that all doctors are in on it & they could always have their own individual motives. I really don’t buy money as the motive, or at least not the only motive.

      It’s just too odd that they could have pulled the same bullshit with probably any cancer & they didn’t. It could have been said that shining a light in someone’s ear would detect a brain tumor & that drilling a hole in the eardrum to remove a tissue sample from the inner ear would be the follow-up test after an irregularity was detected. Then someone could get all kinds of bullshit surgery over meaningless results of unreliable tests, too.

  30. IMustBeSurrounded says:

    I have been reading your comments for over a year – I read almost everything on BlogCritics, Women Against Stirrups and now on this site. I commend you all for your thought, research, insight and courage.

    I have been wanting to comment FOREVER – and I had always intended to sit down and write a big long write up filled with questions and experiences…I still might.

    But as I stand here waiting for my water to boil for pasta – I finally thought “now is the time. Alex – you are SO RIGHT. That is one thing that has crossed my mind. Why this test? Why not “hey we can give you an MRI for a brain tumor, take a chunk out of your tongue for mouth cancer” etc, etc.

    Well – from reading your comments and doing the research – I have an idea why. But just the same – for some reason – Alex’s comment struck a cord with me.

    More to come later. You are all in my thoughts.

  31. Elizabeth (Aust) says:

    Welcome IMBS,

    Read away, I hope there are LOTS of women doing the same thing. I often feel like this site is informing women one by one and saving them a lot of grief in the process. Your post confirms that entirely.
    Once you’re informed many women feel free for the first time, some say they finally have peace of mind and a decent quality of life. We often forget how stressful it is living around these screening programs and awareness drives or facing yet another biopsy or treatment. Fear, embarrassment, humiliation, pain, abuse, anxiety, depression, helplessness, health/psych/self esteem issues and trauma is so often the result.
    I know a lifetime of well woman exams and women’s health “compliance” would be no life at all. (as far as I’m concerned)

    Even if women choose to screen after reading the evidence, for and against, at least you’re in control and can make an informed decision. We should be in control of our life, health and body, why do so many have an issue with that?

  32. Alex says:

    They actually said “allowed,” ADM? I wonder what would happen if you were to tell them that they are “not allowed” to collect a few without a few internal exams being performed? Maybe if you said that they “weren’t going” to be leaving that room without one? Talking in fixed situations is a bit of a common trend with them & it’s always made out to be so innocent- like it’s the same as a presenting things as a question, just worded as a statement.

    What is it with the “Anglo” countries? I’m not trying to be offensive (especially since I’ve got a little bit of Irish & English heritage), but it seems in those & the German-esque countries there’s a lot of dictatorial conduct on this particular subject. Even when other things aren’t that way in those countries, this particular subject of backing women into getting something inserted somewhere is a trend. Whether that’s being coercive with birth control, or things being less than transparent with information, or the doctor just simply being bossy- there’s a real “I say it, you do it” mentality.

    That’s a major part of why I’m intent on leaving this country (the U.S.A.). They’re getting like passive-aggressive Nazis with medical & legal things, and I’m also sick & tired of every damn thing being a lie when it comes to safety or utility. I’m also not a fan of the mentality that if there’s any potential utility to something & someone acts like they have charitable feelings they can do whatever they want to you. I know that’s not directly stated, but that’s the pattern without being announced.

  33. Kleigh US says:

    ADM. If you do not mind what did you tell your new doctor when they said you were allowed to skip a year. I know you said You did not want or agree to pap smears. So bacically they are saying that is up to them what is done or not to a womans sex organs.

    • ADM (Canada) says:

      It was my old Dr who said I could skip a year with the physical. With my new Dr I told him at the first appointment that I was declining all cancer screening. Their office has never recommended yearly physicals but does recommend paps every three years which follows provincial guidelines.

  34. adawells says:

    I have just been browsing the BBC Radio 4 website and they have a programme called Inside Health, which often includes Dr Margaret McCartney speaking. The episode from 18th March 2014 is about whether the UK cervical cancer screening programme is about to change. Professor Jack Cuzick, Director of the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine is asked by the presenter, whether women who have had the Gardasil jabs still need to be screened. The reply is that Cuzick thinks that screening for these women should go down to once every 10 years, but announces that a brand new vaccine, not yet published, and as yet, no further details, has now been invented and treats 7 types of cervical cancer. (The current vaccines only treat types 16, 18).
    When this comes out, Cuzick goes onto say, screening may never be needed again.
    The podcast is here
    http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/medmatters/medmatters_20140318-2130a.mp3,
    But a transcript of the programme is available to view from the BBC Inside Health website.

      • adawells says:

        This is a truly shocking piece of news if non-caucasian girls are being given this vaccine, when it does absolutely nothing for them, but I suppose that’s Gardasil all over…
        I do think that the pressure for a vaccine has come about largely due to cervical cancer being far more prevalent in the developing world, and women in these countries not taking up the screening test for cultural or remote geographical reasons. It has been easier to herd western women into these programmes and brainwash them into believing pap tests are an essential part of our healthcare.

    • Alex says:

      There was an article on Natural News about that Gardasil shot being a scam. Don’t remember all the particulars, but I remember posting about it (I think in the Gardasil Researcher Speaks Out thread). The short of it was that everyone that was making any decisions knew it was bullshit.

      • ADM (Canada) says:

        Alex, is this what you’re referring to? http://www.cbsnews.com/news/gardasil-researcher-speaks-out/

        Although she is pro pap and correlates the low rates of CC with pap screening.

      • Alex says:

        No, the one I’m talking about is by a guy. It was Dr. Bernard Dalbergue, the article was originally printed in Principes de Sante in France), and the whole article is on Natural News. Just type in Natural News Gardasil & it’s the first one on the list you get on the site (apparently, there’s a few articles on this subject).

        What is it about this disease/ailment/condition that makes it so convincing to women? Besides the obvious, that it’s something only a woman could get. Is it that it ties to her identity? More her as A her, instead of liver cancer which is more unisex? Same with breast cancer. I’m not trying to be crude, but I doubt it would be as easy to get a woman to start worrying that her ass was some kind of “ticking time-bomb.”

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      Very interesting Adawells, also, I noticed not ONE word on HPV self-testing, they seem determined to deny women this option. Also, Dr McCartney is right, lots of women will test HPV+ BUT if you start HPV primary testing at 30 (not 25) the number drops from 40% testing HPV+ to 5%.
      Starting HPV primary testing at 25 is too early and not evidence based, it amounts to excess that will worry and harm lots of young women…damage that is easily avoidable as the Dutch will show us with their new program. (which starts at 30) What a difference 5 years can make and of course, HPV+ women should just be offered a 5 yearly pap test, but some countries will send them straight to colposcopy and biopsy. Young women need to be very careful with this program.
      Now the lies and misinformation we’ve received for decades may mean they’re afraid to suddenly change the screening age from 30 to 60, women may then ask why it’s now safe to move from 2 yearly pap testing from teens to age 70. Too many hard questions may lead to the evidence, long established evidence. Of course, they’re happy to keep misleading women, I’ve heard them say here we now have “new” evidence that means it’s safe to wind back testing and move to HPV primary testing…give me a break, we’ve known it was safe to test MUCH less often decades ago, the Finns have had a 7 pap test program since the 1960s. We’ve also, known for a long time that over-screening provides no additional benefit, but lead to high levels of over-treatment and excess biopsies. That’s why MOST Australian women have had something done to their cervix, a biopsy or treatment.

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