COVID-19 Helps Underscore Non-Urgency of Pap Tests

Some women may be concerned about not being able to attend their regularly scheduled pap test due to the COVID-19 situation. Women have long been encouraged to view pap tests as necessary and life saving. Now due to the current situation, women are suddenly being told to not attend their local health clinics for pap testing.

Messaging that promoted pap tests as urgent and life saving has taken a sudden, reverse turn, with cancer screening sites prompting women to stay home rather than attend for screening. A Canadian government site states “A Pap test is a non-urgent, non-emergent screening test. By not visiting your health care provider, you are supporting physical distancing which will assist in efforts to minimize COVID-19 transmission in healthy people” (source).

Messaging in England and Wales tells women that “It may help to remember that having HPV and cell changes are not cervical cancer. About 9 in 10 people get rid of HPV within 2 years and many low grade cell changes go back to normal without treatment. It’s also good to remember that cervical cancer itself is rare” (source).

The propaganda that promoted pap tests as urgent and life saving has been replaced with messaging that is more balanced and realistic. This is a move in the right direction but it’s a shame that it took a pandemic to instill some truth in pap test messaging.

Thanks to Katrehman for her comment on April 30 about this topic.

More about this topic:

Doctor who doesn’t have pap tests: https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2234123-why-i-don-t-have-smears https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2014/04/19/top-five-reasons-for-opting-of-pap-tests/ https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2016/04/23/pap-tests-are-not-mandatory/ https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2016/01/28/doctors-need-to-stop-pushing-pap-tests/ https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2015/01/10/gynecological-procedures-can-cause-ptsd/

37 comments

  1. I noticed this.

    Sadly, I think that the reason behind it is more sinister. A lot of doctors are using Telehealth. However, GYNs primarily entered the field to see AND touch private parts. Therefore, a Telehealth consultation that is recorded and would not allow any inappropriate viewing and no touching of the private parts does not appeal.

    After the pandemic, doctors will probably go all out to convince women that they have cancer because of the missed visits because, like an alcoholic, they probably miss their fix

  2. Sue thank you so much for the message x
    I just feel so sorry for these poor women worrying about their kids being left motherless because they can’t access smears. I wonder what the message will be once pandemic over the worst?? Can it really go back to attend your life saving smear? Will this be the push that leads to women refusing screening and leading to the death. .of these programmes? Ladies what do you think??

  3. Ladies I give up! I posted on mumsnet the reply from Jos About paused smears and also the Canadian “it’s a non urgent non emergent test” but no still they won’t have it, one said she sees no reason not to do smears as the nurse will ” have PPE,

    • They’ve stopped doing everything else that’s not an emergency situation. There is a shortage of PPE, and thousands of people with actual COVID who come to get care – and they need as many people assigned to them as possible. Wasting time of those doing smears, and labs that evaluate them, is taking away the personnel and the PPE needed for the COVID cases. And, if the test is “abnormal” in some way, what then? Do you actually get your very-painful colposcopy and biopsy? With more of a clinician’s time and more PPE? And, another person coming into the hospital potentially contagious and potentially exposing themselves to COVID? Attend a LEEP procedure, again using time, resources, and PPEs? Or, do women have to wait until after this pandemic to get those? Won’t they then spend months worrying that they’re about to die from this? Isn’t worry itself a significant risk for all sorts of things?

      No, it makes no sense whatsoever to have a smear right now.

    • As unpleasant as it sounds, you just cannot cure stupid.
      The fact that they believe the nurse carrying out the smear will have PPE when there is a global shortage for frontline ICU and A&E doctors confirms this.

      I find a large section of Mumsnet to be quite unlikeable if I’m frank – castigating mothers who shun natural births, those who don’t breastfeed and those who work, rather than being full-time stay at home mothers. I don’t think they can be reasoned with.

      However, there are probably women out there with far greater sense and intellect, who will read posts such as yours and even act on their own initiative regarding screening.

      After the pandemic is over, I predict a damage-limitation exercise and a clamour to lure back women for screening.

      They have been forced to admit (through gritted teeth) that screening isn’t all that urgent.
      And it’ll be interesting to see what they say to try and get the punters back in. It’ll probably be a case of, “Oops, we said screening wasn’t urgent… we didn’t mean it! Sorry about thag”!

      • AQ I think you’re right they’re blinkered. I bet they don’t even check out CRUK and I asked them why they weren’t reassured by the Jos thing…it’s right to pause screening. I have yet to get a reply. They had a woman bemoaning her mammogram was cancelled and an outraged 55 yr old annoyed she hadn’t been “invited ” for her one off bowel scope. They also had someone who reads smears saying they’re just standing by waiting to leap into action to save our lives but their workload is 90% down atm…..

  4. What a sad state of affairs that it took a tragic situation like this pandemic for balanced information to start trickling out about the invasive and unreliable pap smear. Unfortunately critical thinking is still in short supply and so no doubt some women will rush to test as soon as the cool aid starts flowing again. Nevertheless this pause could be something of a reset that triggers something in others to do their own research as we have done instead of taking the same old falsehoods and cherry-picked statistics as gospel.

    • Judy I’d like to think so but the rabid pro smear gang on mumsnet aren’t having it, it’s as if they never read the info I posted from Jos about it being right to pause smears or even the Canadian a smear is a non urgent non emergent test. They genuinely think the nurse should still be smearing after all she Has PPE, I don’t think they’ll ever change

      • Very true Kat, the brainwashing is so longstanding and firmly entrenched. In addition I’m concerned that once things are back to some semblance of normalcy, the push for all screening tests will be amplified, especially in the US with our profit based system. Hospital systems and physician practices that perform elective procedures and surgeries are losing a fortune right now, and they’re going to be very anxious to start recouping those losses.

      • This situation we have in the US right now is absurd. They claim that all of these screening tests “save” so much money on healthcare by finding “it” early. Yet, even though they are overflowing, staff is overworked, they’re very low on PPE, they are on the list of services to be bailed out and threatening that they’ll have to close for lack of funds and might not even be able to make payroll. If any industry is set to make a windfall on a pandemic such as COVID it’s the hospital industry. Indeed, many people will likely go bankrupt with extraordinary medical bills if somebody in their family spends a month or more in ICU and isolation. Indeed, many health insurance companies do not have adequate funds to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a significant percentage of those insured.

        If anybody sees this, it will be the insurance companies – such as are left. They’ll see that their expenses for screening tests and follow-ons from that screening went away, and they did not have a significant up-tick for the diseases these tests are supposed to prevent.

    • They even had a survey on there am I being unreasonable to expect smears and cancer screening to continue during covid. 100% thought everything should be continued as normal.
      On a different note this is plainly ridiculous. I work in a school and we are supposed to be opening on June 1st. I really can’t see it happening somehow. No one wants to risk covid not enough known about how it transmits. Unions up in arms. And they want nurses ro take similar risks with smears????

    • I don’t know if this pause in screenings will show that it does not “prevent” late-stage cancers. On the outside, this pandemic could last 3 or 4 years, at most – and that’s if we never find an effective vaccine nor effective treatment nor get quarantines to where they need to be to stop the spread. At the same time, there are millions of women with radiation-induced cancers, which will not be clinically significant for another 5-10 years. Those women will continue to have them grow, and the breast cancer rate will increase. If it were to be halted for a decade or more, I suspect that it wouldn’t make any difference.

      As later-stage cancers appear in women who’ve had their “annual mammogram” for a number of years develop breast cancer, I suspect the pro-screen lobby will use this to show the “importance” of these tests.

      • Professor Baum claims that stopping mammography screening will cause a reduction in breast cancer incidence in the order of 30%. If women don’t have mammograms then they will avoid the harms of overdiagnosis and radiation induced cancer. Unfortunately for those already in the programme, if radiation induced cancer is an issue, older women will present
        Mammography screening misses a significant number of breast cancers anyway with women finding it themselves. A friend of mine found a lump last year as thick as my little finger and approximately 1.5 cm in length, Her mammogram showed no significant changes since 2013!

  5. Ladies just had an alert from they work for you on cervical screening. Emma Harper SNP has asked if there are any post covid plans to offer the self test to women who have.. I quote.. defaulted on their smear test!! I give up

    • These minutes from our National Screening Advisory Committee show that at least they are discussing self testing for all women in New Zealand not just those considered “priority”. We are all obviously going to be pushed to screen though. No mention of informed consent.

      National Cervical Screening Programme
      At its November 2015 meeting NSAC agreed that the NCSP would move to five yearly cervical screening for women aged 25-69 years using primary human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. Primary HPV screening is more sensitive than current liquid-based cytology screening, and with better protection from a negative screening result, allows the extension of the interval between screens to five years.

      Change in cervical screening starting age to 25 years – update
      In July 2016 NSAC endorsed the cessation of cervical screening in women aged 20 to 24 years at the same time primary HPV screening was to be introduced. In March 2018 NSAC endorsed the cessation of screening in women aged 20 to 24 years prior to primary HPV screening implementation. This change in timing is because the introduction of primary HPV screening is now not likely until 2021 as the NCSP register must first be moved across to a new population screening register.
      The NCSP wishes to avoid delaying changing the starting age for cervical screening from 20 to 25 years as the harms of screening this age group outweigh the benefits. The evidence base for this change is viewed as strong and separate to the introduction of primary HPV screening.
      International evidence shows that screening women aged 20-24 years has had little or no impact on rates of cervical cancer in this age group or up to age 30. Investigating and treating common cervical abnormalities in young women, of which the majority resolve without treatment, can lead to over-treatment with associated risks.
      International guidelines recommend against screening women under 25, and a number of other countries have implemented these recommendations.

      A literature review and information from focus groups, particularly Māori, Pacific and Asian women, are being used to help develop the approach to communicating the importance of young women starting to screen at 25 years, with a social media focused media campaign planned. For example, targeted mobile phone messages to women as they turn 25 years.

      Focus groups have highlighted a number of issues including:
      a lack of knowledge about cervical screening
      the current information does not make it clear why young women should participate
      the need to use the term “cervical screening” ie, stop calling the test a “smear”
      the importance of positive messaging and a trusted source of information.

      A steering group is being created which includes representatives from the sector, Māori, Pacific, GPs and Support to Screening services.
      Discussion included
      The importance of monitoring the change of practice, noting three key indicators:
      The uptake of first screen in 25 year olds not already in the programme
      The first screen in women less than 24.5 years (i.e. non-recommended screening)
      The monitoring of cervical cancer incidence trends in 20-24 and 25-29 year age groups.
      Potential opportunities for the NCSP to provide information to the sector include upcoming GP conferences.

      Primary HPV screening: self-testing
      A range of evidence was presented regarding the accuracy and acceptability of primary HPV self-testing. Dr Bronwyn Rendle gave a presentation summarising recent evidence for self-testing including international and New Zealand research, and the approach the NCSP proposes for introducing self-testing.
      Self-testing will ultimately be an option for all women (as an alternative to a clinician collected sample).
      Initially this change would involve the offer of self-testing being made face-to-face to women (ie, no intention for mail out).
      Ongoing collaborative work is anticipated with stakeholders to implement self-testing, particularly service design and communications.
      Key international evidence
      Recent international research includes a 2019 randomised trial and a 2018 meta-analysis showing that tests performed on self-samples are similarly sensitive to those taken by clinicians when an HPV assay based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used. These studies are summarised briefly below.
      Polman N, Ebisch R, Heideman D, et al., Performance of human papilloma virus testing on self-collected versus clinician-collected samples for the detection of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia of grade 2 or worse: a randomised, paired screen positive, non-inferiority trial. Lancet Oncology 2019.
      The IMPROVE study was undertaken within the Netherlands organised screening programme environment (women aged 29-61 years) to assess HPV self-sampling as a potential primary screening method in the general screening population.
      It compared 7643 women who had collected their own samples for HPV testing and 6282 women whose samples were collected by a clinician.
      In the regular screened population HPV testing done with a PCR-based assay and an adequate self-sampling device has clinical sensitivity and specificity for the detection of CIN2+ and CIN3+ similar to that of clinician collected samples.
      569 (7.4%) self-collected samples and 451 (7.2%) clinician collected samples tested HPV positive (relative risk 1.04, 95% CI 0.92-1.17).
      The CIN2+ sensitivity and specificity of HPV testing did not differ between self-sampling and clinician samples: relative sensitivity 0.96 (0.90-1.03); relative specificity 1.00 (0.99-1.01).
      For CIN3+ relative sensitivity was 0.99 (0.91-1.08) and relative specificity was 1.00 (0.99 -1.01).
      The study authors concluded that these findings suggest that HPV self-sampling could be used as a primary screening method in routine screening.

      Arbyn M, Smith S, Temin S, et al. Detecting cervical pre-cancer and reaching underscreened women by using HPV testing on self-samples: updated meta-analyses. BMJ 2018:363;k4823.
      Separately pooled the accuracy of signal amplification and PCR based assays.
      The hrHPV PCR based assays were as sensitive on self-samples as clinician collected samples to detect CIN2 or CIN3+ (pooled ratio 0.99, 95% CI 0.97-1.02); and the specificity to exclude CIN2+ was 2% lower on self-samples than on clinician samples.
      The study authors suggest self-sampling could become the new paradigm for cervical screening in the general population.
      New Zealand research
      The NCSP’s consideration of primary HPV self-testing has also been informed by Australian and New Zealand-based research. New Zealand research has focused on different aspects of the acceptability of self-testing, including specific consideration for programme priority groups, and are outlined below.

      He Tātai Hauora O Hine, Victoria University of Wellington

      The first phase of the He Tapu Te Whare Tangata research programme investigated Māori women’s knowledge and attitudes to self-testing using a Kaupapa Māori mixed methods approach. The research was funded by Te Kete Hauroa, Ministry of Health, with recently published results as follows.
      Adcock A, Cram F, Lawton B, et al. Acceptability of self-taken vaginal HPV sample for cervical screening among an under-screened indigenous population, Aust NZ J Obstet Gynaecol 2019; 59: 301-307.
      The survey of 397 un- and under-screened Māori women showed 77.3% were likely/very likely to do a self-test if offered. Reasons for not attending regular cervical screening were also identified, with whakamā/shyness, lack of time/other commitments, fear of pain or discomfort and cost/financial barriers the top four.

      The second phase of this research, funded by the HRC from 2017, is a randomised community trial in Northland primary care clinics that have a high proportion of Māori women enrolled.
      In intervention clinics, women who are unscreened or have not been screened for four years or more are offered self-testing alongside a range of active follow-up strategies and wrap-around care to support their participation. Control clinics offer usual care.
      Preliminary results showed a 41.7% uptake of self-testing among women in the intervention clinics, with higher uptake for Māori women at 47.6%.
      Qualitative work is being undertaken to understand the experience of referral to colposcopy after a positive self-test.
      Waitemata DHB, Auckland DHB and Massey University

      This research programme is looking at the acceptability and uptake of self-testing for women who don’t participate in the current cervical screening programme (never screened or more than 10 years since last screened) with a strong focus on operational aspects. The DHB initially led and funded three projects.
      Focus groups with Māori, Pacific and Asian women; self-tests were also offered. The invasiveness of current cervical screening was the primary barrier for many women.
      A feasibility study offering self-testing to Māori women through a GP clinic.
      An evaluation by a Māori provider to understand women’s experiences and the cultural appropriateness of the approach.

      An HRC funded randomised control trial (RCT) s currently underway, aiming to recruit 5000 Māori, Pacific and Asian women who are unscreened or who have not been screened for at least eight years. There are four arms; mail out, clinic based, usual care and opportunistic offer. Dr Karen Bartholomew presented the preliminary study findings.
      There was a likely small absolute coverage improvement, but with important equity benefits and also clinical outcomes for participating women (case studies presented). Of note, Maori women had high uptake in the mail out arm, and the uptake for the opportunistic approach undertaken in a number of clinics after the RCT was also high, particularly for Pacific women.
      High resource requirements and a skilled workforce are required to provide a positive supportive experience for women who test positive through diagnosis and also treatment pathways. It was recommended that support for this element of the pathway was appropriately resourced to ensure equitable benefit to self-testing implementation.

      Massey University

      This small study involved 56 un- and under-screened women, predominantly Pacific. It surveyed participants about their preferences around self-testing. Participants were also given the opportunity to try up to three different self-testing devices. Recently published results are briefly summarised as follows.
      Brewer N, Foliaki S, Bromhead C, et al. Acceptability of human papilloma virus self-sampling for cervical cancer screening in under-screened Māori and Pacifica women: a pilot study. NZMJ 2019; 132 (1497):21-39.
      There was a greater preference for self-testing compared to clinician taken samples indicated in the initial questionnaire (78%), though this fell a little after the devices were used. Comparison of acceptability of different devices is limited by small numbers and a stated bias in how the devices were offered to participants.
      NCSP HPV self-testing policy approach
      The recent evidence that self-testing, when a PCR assay is used, is similar to a clinician collected specimen reduces concerns (also previously expressed by NSAC) that a self-test may be a lower quality test than a clinician taken test.

      Most research on HPV self-testing has been undertaken in under-screened populations with a view to increasing the acceptability and accessibility of screening. Recent research in the Netherlands indicates that self-testing may be successfully incorporated into a national screening programme as an option for all women.

      To date, programmes in Australia and the Netherlands, which introduced primary HPV screening in 2017, offer self-testing only to under-screened women. The UK is taking a more conservative approach and is not yet offering self-testing within its primary HPV screening programme (with completion of their programme rollout anticipated by the end of 2019).

      Given the latest international research, the NCSP has recently considered options for offering self-testing to all participants when primary HPV screening is introduced. In March 2019, the NCSP’s Technical Reference Group gave support to the NCSP adopting a universal self-testing approach from the outset of the introduction of primary HPV screening, providing a less invasive collection option for any women to choose if they prefer.

      With the introduction of primary HPV testing not expected before 2021, the NCSP has the opportunity to learn from other countries’ experiences and evaluate emerging evidence on offering self-testing to all women. Anticipating that universal self-testing will ultimately become a clear option, planning will be undertaken for its implementation as part of the introduction of primary HPV testing. Full consideration will be given to unintended consequences and risk mitigation.

      Self-testing remains a key strategy to achieve equitable access and outcomes for priority populations and will be implemented from the outset of the NCSP’s change to HPV primary testing. To assist in achieving the programme’s equity aims, the NCSP also intends to offer an increased support service for Māori and Pacific women and a wider package of targeted free screens. These initiatives are subject to successful funding bids.

      Discussion included
      Clarification that clinic based self-testing is proposed at this stage not postal of self- testing kits.
      Ultimately multiple approaches are likely in the future with for example self-testing and clinician taken samples in primary care based clinics, as well as mail out to those who prefer this approach or those who do not attend following a screening invitation.
      Potential issues with decreases in mail services and more limited courier services in rural areas, although there is good evidence of high stability of specimens over lengthy periods.
      Initial focus is building on the current cervical screening approach and maintaining a high level of primary care involvement, noting in particular the importance of follow up cytology and 12 month recall for women with “other” hrHPV strains identified (non-HPV16/18).
      There are lessons from primary care involvement in the national bowel screening programme, with their important provision of a safety net for follow up.
      The advantages self-testing will bring with the freeing up of primary care time when self-testing is offered as an option to all women.
      The exemplary approach the NCSP has taken regarding the development of options for self-testing, including the timely consideration of a strong international and New Zealand evidence base.

      HPV self-testing recommendations

      NSAC endorsed:
      The offer of self-testing for priority groups when primary HPV screening is introduced.
      In principle, the implementation of the offer of primary HPV self-testing to all women.

      NSAC noted:
      The NCSP will undertake active assessment of international programme developments and related research on primary HPV self-testing to inform final policy decisions on a programme change to include the offer of the self-testing option to all women.
      The NCSP will seek NSAC’s endorsement of the timing of a programme change to include the offer of self-testing to all women.

  6. Unfortunately I think women will find it very it hard to overcome their original programming and will flock to have their smears done as soon as restrictions are lifted. I imagine it will be conceptualized as another close call during which their reproductive system could have killed them but didn’t because they got “so lucky.”

  7. Why oh why did we need a deadly pandemic to get some truth out of the perpetually lying medical bureaucrats? Comes COVID-19, and “suddenly”:
    * Pap testing is non-urgent and non-emergent.
    * HPV tests are better than pap-crap.
    * Self-testing is reliable.
    * 5-year intervals are perfectly sufficient.
    * Cell changes are not equal to cervical cancer.
    * Wast majority will clear out HPV and cell changes without any treatment.
    * Unnecessary screening leads to overtreatment with a large array of harm and side effects.
    * Cervical cancer is rare.

    What a 180 degree turn of the propaganda and brainwashing machine!

    I wonder though, what strategy they will adopt once the pandemic is over and the cervix-butchering industry with its boob-Chernobyling cousin discover shortages of patients and dollars?

  8. I just found an interesting article: https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/the-unexpected-side-effect-of-covid-19-opinion/ar-BB14GzS2?ocid=spartandhp

    It talks about how mortality, among some demographics, may end up decreasing because of COVID-19. That is, when diagnosis and early interventions for some things, has been delayed or not done, avoiding the risks of the procedure. They spend a lot of time talking about the effects of delaying mamograms, and effects of prior studies involving reducing the number of mammograms. Unsurprisingly, the result was fewer breast cancers!

    Fewer surgeries for early stage breast cancer, prostate cancer. These butchering techniques of the sex organs of human beings. This lowered use of family physicians may cause a significant number of them to close by the end of June.

  9. I went to a podiatrist a couple of days ago. He shares a waiting room with an OB/GYN. When I was there, the OB/GYN was CLOSED! The lights were out. As part of social distancing, we sat near the OB/GYN’s reception desk. I looked at the window, and it said, “Drs. X, Y, and Z are working from home. Please call xxx-xxxx to schedule a telehealth appointment. If you are experiencing bleeding, serious pain, or are in labor, call yyy-yyyy to speak to one of the obstetricians immediately or go to the emergency department.”

    Golly gee! Somebody needing a pap, or otherwise somehow needing to be prodded and probed can wait until the pandemic is over.

  10. Can someone help me? I’m 36 years old. I have been with my husband for almost 20 years. He has been my only sexual contact, FULL stop. Never even kissed anyone else. He did have a few encounters before me at age 18.

    I have never had a pap smear. I suffered from extreme vaginismus until this past year, when finally we are able to have successful intercourse. I got pregnant twice through minimal penetration. I saw midwives at a freestanding birth center for my pregnancy where I was not hassled about paps or unnecessary pelvic exams. I had perfect, healthy, complication free (and unmedicated births).

    For the last several years I have suffered extreme, life-altering health anxiety. My current flavor of anxiety is centered around the idea that I have never had a pap. What if I’ve put it off for so long and there’s been something growing in there and now it’s too late?

    I know my risk of even having a dormant HPV infection is extremely low, considering my limited sexual history. I don’t smoke, I’m thin, I exercise 7 days a week and I generally live a healthy lifestyle (other than my anxiety).

    But when I read online about virgins asking doctors about their risk they are met with “you still need a pap!!!!” It just seems like high risk HPV/CC is so *prevalent* that our minds have been trained to think that we ALL will have abnormal cells that we ALL have to have burned off lest we succumb to cancer.

    I can’t get over this anxiety, but I also can’t get over this hurdle of fear to go to the doctor and get a pap smear. Help?

  11. To start with, relax. If you are in the US, the numbers given at https://knowyourchances.cancer.gov/custom_charts.php A 35 year old woman has a chance of 0.0113% of getting CC over the next 5 years, or 0.2149% of getting CC “eventually”. That’s 1:10,000 chance that you’ll get CC over the next 5 years if you’re “average”. As you’ve had one sexual partner, in long-term monogamy, you don’t smoke, are not obese, and don’t engage in other “high risk” behavior, and don’t have it in your family, YOUR chances are even lower.

    Nearly all cases of HPV clear up within a couple of years. It’s the few that don’t which can lead to CC. This kills just over 4100 women per year in the US, out off ~160,000,000 women, giving each US female a 0.000025625 probability of getting CC this year.

    Abnormal cells that “need to be burned off”, in a situation without anesthesia and especially having a colposcopy with vaginismus would seem untenable.

    IMnsHO, the way to handle your health anxiety is talk to a counselor about it. The way to handle fear is not to just “go along with it”. Even if you have a pap, what then? There are false positives and false negatives. The false positives will get even more pressure to have more and more invasive testing (like the colposcopy/biopsy I discussed in the previous paragraph), and LEEP. There are false negatives which may get you thinking that you “need” a repeat test “just in case”.

    There are many other cancers, even rare cancers, with higher probability than CC. If you went to your doctor fretting about cardiac (heart) or kidney cancer, demanding a test, they would try to talk you out of it or send you to a counselor. Each of those kills more people each year than cervical cancer. Why do you suppose there’s this fascination with women’s vaginas?

    • Thank you so much for your thorough and kind response. The statistics are reassuring, but there’s one thing my dumb brain can’t get beyond – are the chances of getting CC that low BECAUSE of the hyper aggressive screening that we do? Or is that in general?

      And I have read that the vast majority of HPV, even high risk, clears up on its own, but I also read that it can lay dormant for years or decades before it resurfaces to “cause problems” and so once someone has been HPV+ at one point, she’s never truly not at risk?

      I love this blog and the message you all are putting out there is important, I just wish I could fully get my anxiety over it under control so that I “believe” it.

      • I’ve looked and considered that. My husband brought that up. So, look at unscreened and less-screened people in the US and the world. Do the ones with higher rates of screening have lower rates of CC? No. The better-screened, in fact, have more of it. The pooerer, those with less access to screening, the “refusenicks” do not have a higher rate of CC. In the world, areas with poor access to hygiene, civil unrest, frequent sex or rapes or marriage with very young girls, and early marriage and childbirth have high rates of CC. Those people need help, and using screening to get their CC down while leaving them without clean water and bands of marauders is a waste of resources.

        The “dormancy theory”, if correct, would fly in the face of immunology. It would push aside all theories that vaccinations even can work, or that having a disease confers immunity to that disease. Otherwise, people who’d had measles as children would always be on the lookout for recurring measles – which does not happen. Some diseases, such as polio, do damage which causes problems later and other diseases can be caught a second time as immunity fades over time, such as shingles after having chicken pox decades earlier.

        If having HPV EVER increased risk, the Guardasil vaccines would create a much higher risk by infecting everyone – and with the “dormancy theory”, it would flare-up later. That hasn’t been the case.

  12. Pls help me ladies I’m so alone I need someone to talk too I don’t want to feel like I don’t want to think that cc can kill me pls help me!!!!

    • While it may not be possible to ‘talk’ in real time by the means of comments, reading the articles and comments on this site may really help.

      It is important to understand that there are lots (lots!) of other things that have a much higher chance of killing a random woman than cervical cancer. It’s just that addressing those risks is either less profitable, less interesting, or less satisfying to the medical establishment than exerting power over women, getting them out of their clothes and butchering their genitalia.

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