Cervical Cancer

Program Officers
Lauren Walker | l.walker@cesphn.com.au
Stephanie Walker | s.walker@cesphn.com.au


Cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable – but screening is vital. Around 80 per cent of Australian women who develop cervical cancer do not get screened regularly as recommended, or have never been screened.

From 1 December 2017, women in Australia will benefit from a new and more effective screening test for cervical cancer — it’s more accurate and requires testing less often:

  • The Pap test will be replaced by a new Cervical Screening Test. This new testing detects infection with human papillomavirus (HPV), the virus that causes abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix, which if left untreated may eventually lead to cervical cancer.
  • Women should have a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years instead of a Pap test every 2 years.
  • Women with a normal screening history will be due for their first Cervical Screening Test 2 years after their last Pap test.
  • Women will be invited to start screening at age 25 and should have a final (exit) test when they are aged between 70 and 74 years.

The new human papillomavirus (HPV) test will prevent up to 30 per cent more women from developing cervical cancer because it detects HPV, an early risk indicator for cervical cancer. The Pap test detects cervical abnormalities after they occur. The procedure to collect the sample is the same.

Australia was one of the first countries to roll out a national cervical cancer immunisation program using Gardasil, which protects young women from four strains of HPV. And the new version of the vaccine, Gardasil 9, will protect women against a further five strains of HPV, or approximately 90 per cent of HPV-related cervical cancers.

From 1 January 2018, the vaccine will be offered through the National Immunisation Program as part of school based vaccination programs and as part of a catch up program for individuals up to the age of 19 years. Even with the vaccine, it’s important that women continue to have cervical screening.


Resources for health professionals ( including guidelines,template links)  
  • The National Cervical Screening Program Guidelines for 1 December 2017 onwards, can now be accessed at the Cancer Council Australia website.

  • Education and Training courses for GPs and practice nurses can be found at Family Planning NSW.

  • The Pathology Test Guide for Cervical and Vaginal testing provides context for using the variations of cervical screening and shows what to write on the pathology request form on the Dept of Health website.

  • Understanding the National Cervical Screening Program Management Pathway: a guide for health professionals is also a useful reference to help ensure the correct test is requested from the Dept of Health website.

  • A comprehensive summary of information about the Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program, resources for patients and where to go for more details can be found at the Cancer Institute NSW.

    CESPHN can work with practices to ensure female patients are screened through:

    • Support to identify patients due and overdue for screening, including accessing lists from the pap test register / National Cancer Screening Register
    • Support to implement recall and reminder systems
    • Provision of appropriate resources
Information for health professionals to give to consumers