Summary

  •  Cervical cancer is largely preventable through regular screening
  •  From 1 December 2017, the Pap test will be replaced by a new Cervical Screening Test
  • The new test is more effective because it detects the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • The new Cervical Screening Test is expected to protect up to 30% more people from cervical cancer.
  • The HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV infection known to cause cervical cancer, so continue having regular screens.

The National Cervical Screening Program

The National Cervical Screening Program in Victoria aims to prevent and detect cervical cancer early through regular cervical screening. Based on new evidence and improved technology, the renewed National Cervical Screening Program was introduced on 1 December 2017. In summary:

  • The Pap test is replaced by a new Cervical Screening Test. 
  • People aged 25 to 74 years are eligible to participate in the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP). 
  • The new Cervical Screening Test is expected to protect up to 30% more people from cervical cancer.
  • The new test is more effective because it detects the human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, is a common virus that can cause cervical cell abnormalities that in rare cases may develop into cervical cancer.
  • If you are 25 or older your first Cervical Screening Test is due two years after your last Pap test, if your result was normal. 
  • The way the test is done won’t change, it will feel the same as the Pap test.
  • Once you have had your first Cervical Screening Test, you’ll only need to have one every five years, instead of every two (if your results are normal and you do not have HPV). 
  • Five yearly screening is safe. This is because it usually takes 10 to 15 years for a persistent HPV infection to develop into cervical cancer. 
  • HPV is so common that many people have it at some point in their lives and never know it, as there are usually no symptoms. Most HPV infections are cleared naturally by the body’s immune system within one to two years without causing problems.
  • Even if you have received the HPV vaccine, you still need to be regularly screened as the vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV infection known to cause cervical cancer.
  • If at any age you have any symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge or pain see your healthcare provider immediately.

For more information

For more information speak with your healthcare provider, or visit National Cervical & Screening Program  or call 1800 627 701.
For information visit the National Cervical Screening Register 

References
  • Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry – Annual Statistical Reports,Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry. More information here.
  • Abnormal Cervical Screening, National Cervical Screening Program. More information here.
  • When did you last have a Pap smear?, National Cervical Screening Program – Australian Government, Department of Health. More information here.
  • An abnormal pap smear result: what this means for you, 2006, National Cervical Screening Program – Australian Government, Department of Health. More information here.
  • National Cervical Screening Program: publications and resources, National Cervical Screening Program – Australian Government, Department of Health. More information here.
  • Frequently asked questions, National Cervical Screening Program – Australian Government, Department of Health. More information here.
  • Support victim/survivors of sexual assault - PapScreen Victoria More information here.
  • Victim/survivors of sexual assault - PapScreen Victoria More information here.
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    This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: DHHS - Screening and Cancer Prevention

    Last updated: December 2017

    Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.