A new clinic has been set up to meet the anticipated demand for colposcopy when the new human papillomavirus (HPV) testing is introduced later this year.
The Gold Coast Private Hospital has established the Gold Coast Private Colposcopy Clinic to offer local women a cost effective private option for the procedure.
Colposcopy is the procedure undertaken to detect cancers after a woman returns an abnormal pap smear. With the introduction of the new, more sensitive HPV test in December, experts are predicting more women will need to undergo a colposcopy.
Clinic head Dr Graeme Walker said he expects an increase in older women being referred to colposcopy when the two yearly pap smear test for women aged 18 to 69 will change to a five yearly HPV test for women aged 25 to 74.
“HPV is a virus that does not automatically lead to abnormality and there is going to be a reasonable sized cohort of women who return a positive result to high-risk HPV who have never returned a positive cytology and are suddenly told they require a colposcopy.
“As a result, we are going to have some very anxious women sitting in our surgeries thinking ‘I’ve never had an abnormal pap smear, why is this happening now and what is HPV'," Dr Walker said.
The dedicated clinic will provide an outpatient service offering cervical examinations and biopsies, without patients having to undergo anaesthetic, allows them to be seen within days of referral and results in lower out-of-pocket expenses.
“We set this clinic up in consultation with Gold Coast Private Hospital with the intention of making it accessible to everyone.
“By providing a low cost private alternative, more women will also be able to choose treatment outside of the public system, reducing public wait times, and access the procedure without hospital admission,” Dr Walker said.
Making colposcopy an easy to access and cost effective procedure was vital Dr Walker said, as more than 320 women die in Australia from cervical cancer each year.
“Removing the anxiety associated with the procedure is important in ensuring women undertake the necessary testing and treatment for early detection of cervical cancer.
“Studies have shown colposcopy is one of the most stressful medical procedures for patients, resulting in anxiety levels similar to that of someone undergoing major surgery or a pregnant woman being told there is an abnormal protein test.
“Our focus is on relieving this anxiety by creating a calm and safe environment, quick and efficient testing and treatment and strong lines of communication, so women are well educated on what their individual circumstances are and the next steps they need to take,” said Dr Walker.