The Cancer Institute NSW manages the NSW Cervical Screening Program under the National Cervical Screening Program.
The major risk factor for cervical cancer is persistent
infection with human papillomavirus (HPV). Tobacco smoke also
represents an additional risk to women.
The good news is cervical cancer is almost entirely preventable.
Regular Pap tests can pick up the early warning signs that can be
treated before cancer develops.
New screening test recommendations
The Federal Government has undertaken a review of the national
cervical screening program to ensure it continues to be as
effective as it can be. The recommended changes to screening
procedures are not anticipated to come into effect before 2016, so
it is still vital that women continue to have their Pap tests as
soon as they are due.
You can find out more about these changes on the
Cervical Screening NSW website.
Who should screen?
All women between the ages of 18 and 70 years and who have ever
had sexual intercourse should have a Pap test every two years.
It is also important that women who have received the HPV
vaccine continue to have regular two-yearly screening regardless of
Since the introduction of population screening, we have made
considerable inroads into the prevalence of cervical cancer.
The number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer declined 25.1
per cent in NSW between 1999 and 2008 and the number of deaths
declined by 21.6 per cent during the same period.
However, there is always more work to do. Research shows 65 per
cent of women in NSW diagnosed with cervical cancer do not have
regular two-yearly screening.
We need to continue to raise awareness amongst women of the
importance of regular screening so that we can continue to improve
our cervical cancer outcomes.
Managing abnormal results
The NSW Pap Test Register, managed by
the Cancer Institute NSW, ensures that women who return an abnormal
test result receive the necessary follow-up care.
Managing an abnormal test result requires a coordinated approach
from a number of different health professionals.
That's why the National Health and Medical Research Council has
a set of guidelines for women and health professionals so that
the best possible outcomes can be achieved.
'Peace of Mind'
'Peace of Mind' aims to increase awareness of the need
for women to have regular cervical screening (Pap tests). The
campaign encourages women aged 18-69 years to make an appointment
for a Pap test every two years. The campaign objective is to
increase screening participation with a particular focus on those
women not screening at all during the recommended two-yearly
The campaign acknowledges how awkward it can be for a woman to
have a Pap test and compares having a Pap test to other awkward
things women do. It also reinforces the need for women who have
received the HPV vaccine to continue with regular Pap tests to
protect against cervical cancer.
The 'Peace of Mind' campaign was originally developed
by the Cancer Council Victoria based on research that indicated
embarrassment as a significant barrier to women participating in
regular cervical screening.
'Don't Just Sit There'
'Don't Just Sit There' aims to increase awareness of the need
for women to have regular cervical screening. The campaign
encourages women 18-69 years to make an appointment for a Pap test
with their doctor every two years.
The commercial demonstrates the difference between the feeling
of being uncomfortable during a Pap test and the feeling of being
uncomfortable during the treatments of cervical cancer which could
involve chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. It also reinforces
the need for regular Pap tests for women who may have been recently
vaccinated against cervical cancer.
Cervical cancer is a potentially fatal disease which is largely
preventable if pre-cancerous cell changes are detected early enough
and treated appropriately. Cervical screening, via two yearly Pap
tests, is the most effective of all cancer prevention programs. The
early detection of abnormal cell changes prevent around 90% of
cervical cancers. Australia has the second lowest incidence of
cervical cancer in the world among countries with comparable cancer
registration systems. About two million Australian women have a Pap
test for cervical cancer screening each year.
The 'Don't Just Sit There' campaign, originally developed by the
Cancer Council Victoria in 2004, has helped increase screening
rates in several states across Australia. The number of Pap tests
conducted in NSW during the 2007 campaign period increased by 21%
in comparison to the same period in 2006.
With the introduction of the National HPV Vaccination Program
the campaign was revised in 2008 to reinforce the need for
women who have been immunised against HPV to continue to have two
yearly Pap tests.
Following the success of the initial campaign in 2007 the
campaign successfully reran in 2008 and 2009 and will run again in
'Don't just sit there' - 30 second television