Cervical Screening

Cervical Screening

80 per cent of cervical cancer occurs in women who have never screened or don’t screen regularly. Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable.

In the Sydney North Health Network region, cervical screening participation rates among women aged 20-69 years (63.1%) are higher than the NSW rate (56.3%).

Screen detected cervical cancers are less likely to cause death than cervical cancers diagnosed in women that have never been screened. 80% of cervical cancer occurs in women who have never screened or don’t screen regularly. 

The new National Cervical Screening Program aims to prevent cervical cancer by detecting early changes in the cervix. On 1 December 2017, The National Cervical Screening Program guidelines changed and women in Australia will benefit from a new and more effective screening test for cervical cancer.

What the changes mean for women and general practitioners (GPs)

  • A more accurate five yearly Cervical Screening Test has replaced the two yearly Pap test.
  • Women who are already having Pap tests should have their first Cervical Screening Test when they are next due for a Pap test (usually two years after their most recent Pap test for women with a normal screening history).
  • Women who have ever been sexually active should have a Cervical Screening Test every five years.
  • Women will be invited to start cervical screening from the age of 25 and continue screening until they are 74 years.
  • Women under 25 are ineligible to claim Medicare rebates for HPV tests since the 1 December renewal. Refer to clinical guidelines for management of women under 25.
  • Women who have been vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV) need to have regular cervical screening as the vaccine protects against some high-risk types of HPV, but does not protect against all oncogenic types.
  • Healthcare providers will still perform a vaginal speculum examination and take a cervical sample, but the sample medium is liquid-based for partial HPV genotyping.
  • Contact your laboratory to find out how self-collected samples are processed for your service. One NSW laboratory group is able to process self-collected samples.
  • Guidelines for management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding are available on the Cancer Council Australia wiki website.

Source: Australian Government. Changes to the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) for Healthcare Providers

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