The Pap test has changed: More Accurate. Less Often.
Based on new evidence and better technology, the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) changed on 1 December 2017 to improve early detection and save more lives.
The two yearly Pap test for women aged 18 to 69 is now a five yearly human papillomavirus (HPV) test for women aged 25 to 74. Women are due for their first Cervical Screening Test two years after their last Pap test, after which they can move to 5 yearly screening.
The changes include:
- Women are invited when they are due to participate via the National Cancer Screening Register
- The Pap smear has been replaced with the more accurate Cervical Screening Test
- The time between tests has changed from two yearly to five yearly
- The age at which screening commences has increased from 18 years to 25 years
- Women aged 70 to 74 are now invited to have an exit test.
It is expected that the changes to the National Cervical Screening Program will protect up to 30% more women from cervical cancer.
Cervical Screening Test
Cervical screening has changed in Australia. The Pap test has been replaced with a new Cervical Screening Test every five years. The latest medical and scientific evidence shows that having a Cervical Screening Test every five years is just as safe, and is more effective than having a Pap test every two years.
The test is a quick and simple procedure to check the health of your cervix. If you have ever had a Pap test before, the way the test is done will look and feel the same.
The procedure might be a bit uncomfortable, but it shouldn’t hurt. If it hurts, tell your healthcare provider straight away.
Your GP will receive your results about two weeks after your test and may contact you to talk about your results.
Do I need a Cervical Screening Test?
If you are a woman aged 25-74 years of age and have ever been sexually active you should have a Cervical Screening Test every five years until the age of 74.
Your first Cervical Screening Test is due at 25 years of age or two years after your last Pap test. If your result is normal you will be due in five years to have your next test.
At any age – If you have symptoms such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain or discharge, you should see your healthcare provider immediately.
Every year around 800 Australian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, however most cervical cancer is preventable with regular screening
Where can I get more information?
If you have any questions about the new Cervical Screening Test, call us on 8300 7200 to book an appointment with your healthcare provider.
Find out more about the Cervical Screening Test at cancerscreening.gov.au/cervical or call 13 15 56.