Cervix self-screening makes it possible to screen for cervical cancer yourself, anywhere you feel safe and comfortable. It’s an alternative to the Pap test for regular cervix screening.
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The test uses a small swab to take a sample from the vagina to look for human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer. You can do it wherever you feel safe and comfortable, such as in your home or at a health care provider’s office.
The test is quick, reliable and effective.
Request a kit.
It’s easy to get screened. Fill out an
online kit request form or call 1-877-702-6566.
- It tests for HPV, the virus that causes the changes to the cells of the cervix that lead to cervical cancer
- You don’t need to see a health-care provider or have a speculum (pelvic) exam
- You can do it yourself within the privacy of your home or, if you prefer, at a health-care provider’s office
- It’s easy and painless: you use a small, Q-tip like swab to collect a sample from your vagina
- It’s free of charge
- HPV testing is very accurate; because of its higher sensitivity, you won’t be due for your next screen until five years later if no HPV is found
Cervix self-screening looks for the virus that causes cervical cancer, HPV. It can find people who are more likely to develop abnormal cell changes caused by HPV.
Cervix self-screening uses HPV testing to look for HPV in your vagina. HPV testing does not need a sample from your cervix.
Learn more about HPV.
If you are eligible and due for screening, request a self-screening kit by phone (1-877-702-6566) or
online. Your kit will arrive in a plain, unmarked envelope in about 2 weeks.
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Complete screening by following the
instructions inside your kit (PDF). You can also ask a health care provider to explain or show you how to take the sample or they can take the sample for you.
Drop off your completed kit at your nearest post office or post box. Try and drop off your kit the same day you collect your sample.
You and a health-care provider will get results in 4-6 weeks. You can also see your results online through
Once requested, you can expect to receive a self-screening kit in the mail in about 2 weeks. It will arrive in plain, unmarked packaging.
- A collection device (swab);
- Step-by-step instructions;
- Lab requisition; and,
- Materials for packaging and returning your completed sample, including a clear plastic bag and a prepaid return envelope
A Pap test looks for cell changes on the cervix and/or HPV that can lead to cervical cancer. What gets tested will depend on your age and health history.
During a Pap test, an instrument called a speculum is gently inserted in your vagina so your health-care provider can see your cervix. Your provider will then collect some cells from your cervix using a small brush or spatula.
Cervix self-screening looks for the virus, HPV, that causes changes to cells on the cervix. During cervix self-screening, you take your own sample from your vagina using a swab.
The choice is yours. Please speak to a health-care provider if you have questions.
Cervix self-screening is easy and should not hurt. You collect a sample by turning a small swab inside your vagina for 20 seconds; it doesn’t have to go in too far. If you
follow the instructions inside your kit (PDF), you’re doing it correctly. The sample you collect is just as accurate as a provider-taken sample.
You can also ask a health-care provider to explain or show you how to take the sample or they can take the sample for you.
Or watch this cervix self-screening instructions video.
Video available in Mandarin, Cantonese, Punjabi and French.
If you are eligible and due for screening, you may order a self-screening kit at any time.
Our program notifies participants when they are due to screen again (e.g., 3 years since their last Pap test or 5 years since their last HPV test).
Cervix self-screening will not entirely replace the need for health-care provider-collected tests, like Pap tests. For instance, a Pap test will be needed:
- If you prefer to screen in person
- If you are
ineligible for self-screening
- When a follow-up test is required (e.g., if HPV is found in your cervix self-screening sample).
You can still book a Pap test with a health-care provider if that is your preference. Visit our
clinic locator to find a clinic near you.
Pap tests detect abnormal cells that can eventually turn into cancer. Cervix self-screening detects HPV that can cause abnormal cells. Neither test for treatable STIs. If you are experiencing symptoms or have concerns please speak to your health-care provider. You can continue to screen for treatable STIs by visiting your heath-care provider.
Pap tests only screen for cervical cancer. For some people, checking for treatable STIs or having a pelvic exam may be done at the same time as a Pap test, or at other times between rounds of cervix screening. Pelvic exams are still available through a health-care provider. If you are experiencing symptoms or have concerns please speak to your health-care provider. You can continue to screen for treatable STIs by visiting your health-care provider.
If you are eligible and due for cervix screening, you can participate in self-screening whether or not you have a health-care provider. If follow-up is needed after screening (e.g., you test positive for HPV), you will be connected to a clinic in your community.
There are no costs to you. The self-screening kits are provided free of charge. Each kit also includes a prepaid return envelope, allowing you to conveniently return the sample to the lab for testing.
If you have any of the following speak to a health-care provider. It is important to investigate these symptoms - even if your screening results are normal.
- Vaginal bleeding after sex, between periods or after menopause
- Abnormal or increased vaginal discharge
- Unexplained pelvic pain or pain during sex
If no HPV is found, you don’t need to be screened again for another 5 years. Cervix self-screening is highly effective at finding those at risk of cervical cancer. This means that you can safely go longer between screenings. Screening for HPV every 5 years is as safe as having a Pap test every 3 years.
You can expect to receive your results by mail within 4 to 6 weeks. You can also see your results online through Health Gateway if you have registered for this service: www.healthgateway.gov.bc.ca
If your result shows HPV was found, this does not mean you have or will develop cancer.
HPV is very common and often goes away on its own. If you’ve had any kind of sexual contact in your life, even with one partner, there’s a good chance that you’ve come into contact with HPV. It can appear soon after exposure or years later, making it hard to know for sure when HPV was passed or by whom.
It does mean more visits with a health-care provider are needed. Depending on your result, you may need a Pap test or colposcopy (a procedure used to look at the cervix more closely).
It’s important to go to any follow-up appointments that are recommended for you.