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Your Tampon is Now Your Pap Smear

The point of cervical cancer screening is to screen all women who have not yet gotten a diagnosis of cervical cancer.

To that end in the 1950s the new cellular screening test evolved into a cellular test of the cells of the cervix and the pap smear was invented.

But to perform the test one had to reach the cervix, thus it was only able to be performed by medical providers with proper training.

But we have now shown that detecting the presence of the HPV virus in the genital tissues (the vagina) can be an accurate way to screen women for the precancerous conditions that if left untreated can become cancerous.

We know that over half of all cancers of the cervix are in women who have not had screening in over 5 years.

So we have developed collection devices to test vaginal secretions for the HPV that can be used for the patient, but it is still a bit complex and requires special brushes or swabs, and special instructions, and finally, special transport vials.

So researchers at Stanford University have begun looking at menstrual blood samples and whether those could be screened for the HPV virus.

They didn’t actually use tampons for this study, they used a specialized pad.

Not all participants did the collection promptly, it did take a few months to receive some of the specimens back, but it was accurate, easy, and potentially a big step forward in helping clients get prompt screening.

If you or a friend hasn’t gotten in for screening, and need an appointment, call Women’s Health Practice 217-356-3736.


Suzanne Trupin, MD, Board Certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist and owner of Women's Health Practice, Hada Cosmetic Medicine, and Hatha Yoga and Fitness

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