Safety from screening

The new screening protocol that is based on HPV testing is safer than Pap screening in women who have turned 30. For women under 30, Pap screening is more precise: HPV infections that pass and heal on their own are common in young women and HPV screening in younger women would cause undue worry and unnecessary treatments.

The screening results describe the participant’s situation at the moment of testing. Due to how slowly precancerous conditions and cancer normally develop, the five-year screening interval is safe. HUSLAB’s HPV screening protocol for women over 30 and Pap screening for women under 30 was started in the beginning of 2019 and it is the safest and most optimal screening protocol. No test is perfect: in rare cases it is possible that cancer could develop quickly between screening tests, for example. On the other hand, an abnormal cellular change that leads to an invitation to colposcopy may prove to be a benign change related to tissue renewal (incl. metaplasia or regeneration) or an HPV infection that would heal on its own without treatment. This means that sometimes women are invited to follow-up examinations but the final test results show no increased risk of cervical cancer.

With well-organized screening, Finland has been able to decrease the occurrence rate of new cancer cases to a fifth of what it was when screening began in the early 1960s. Finns have the privilege to participate in well-organized and reliable screening that guarantees a complete treatment chain.

 

Self-sampling trial

 

In 2018, Helsinki tested cervical screening where women could take their vaginal samples independently at home. A randomised group of women in the pilot project were given the option to order sampling instructions and equipment home (or retrieve them from a laboratory), take the samples according to the instructions, and return the samples to HUSLAB by post.

The purpose of the pilot project was to increase participation in women who for some reason do not wish to participate in regular screening. The goal was to enhance screening and provide a better service for our customers. The results of the project are currently under analysis.