The Cervical Centre at the Gold Coast Private Hospital have seen a significant increase in referrals for colposcopy – a procedure undertaken to detect cancer after a woman returns an abnormal pap smear. This is following the new cervical cancer screening program which now includes the human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. Head of The Cervical Center, gynaecologist Graeme Walker, said the public system was under immense pressure. “Some public hospitals have a 12-week waiting list for the most abnormal pap smears, whereas we can see most patients within two weeks and urgent patients almost immediately.”
The new tests give a positive or negative result for HPV. This can lead a “positive” patient to think they are at a higher risk of significant abnormality, but this might not necessarily be the case. “A lot of patients wrongly believing they have cervical cancer, and they attend my rooms in a state of heighted anxiety and distress.”
Alleviating patient stress and giving women faster access to quality care was why The Cervical Centre was created. Dr Walker wants to make sure women were not scared off regular testing. “Of the women who have cervical cancer, 85 per cent haven’t been screened for the past five years so the message is simple – screening saves lives. We want to make sure every woman feels comfortable enough to have a pap smear and come for colposcopy, if necessary, so that we can find any abnormalities early and give them the best chance of survival.
Dr Walker says, “At The Cervical Centre, we focus on relieving anxiety by creating a calm and safe environment, quick and efficient testing and treatment, and strong lines of communication. Women are well-educated on what their individual circumstances are and the next steps they need to take. I have been performing colposcopies for two decades and in my experience, while the thought of the procedure is quite stressful, if done correctly, women barely feel the anaesthetic or the following treatment. We can treat almost all patients in the rooms so removing the need for hospital admission further reduces the anxiety.”
Dr Walker and Gold Coast Private Hospital established the clinic in 2018. He is supported by his wife Hilary – a specialist nurse colposcopist. The Cervical Centre is the Gold Coast’s first and only dedicated colposcopy clinic, giving women access to an outpatient service offering cervical examinations, biopsies and Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone (LETZ) in minutes, under local anaesthetic.
Dr Walker said, “We set this clinic up in consultation and partnership with Gold Coast Private Hospital with the intention of making it accessible to everyone, regardless of whether they have private health insurance or not.”
Women who do not have private health cover will be charged a one-off fee of $350, which includes referral, colposcopy, biopsy and, when necessary, recall and LETZ. Women with private health insurance are eligible to be fully covered for the procedure, depending on their level of cover.
For information contact: Dr Graeme Walker Gold Coast Private Hospital Suite 15, Ground Floor 14 Hill Street, Southport Qld P: (07) 5530 0491 W: www.thecervicalcentre.com.au
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Editor for Silver Magazine Gold Coast