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Cervical screening

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers—having a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years is now the best way to prevent it.

Since the National Screening Program began in 1991, incidence and death from cervical cancer has halved in Australia.

Why is this screening program important?

A Cervical Screening Test prevents cervical cancer by detecting the human papillomavirus (HPV).  HPV is the cause of cervical cancer in over 99% of cases. 

Most women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Australia have not had regular Cervical Screening Tests (or the Pap test prior to December 2017).

The NSW Cervical Screening Program aims to reduce the impact of cervical cancer by increasing the number of women having regular Cervical Screening Tests.

The Program is a jointly funded Commonwealth/state and territory initiative under the National Healthcare Agreement. The Cancer Institute NSW has managed the NSW Cervical Screening Program since 1 July 2005.

The Program's purpose is to:

  • Encourage women to have Cervical Screening Tests every 5 years.
  • Improve the reliability and accessibility of services for taking, interpreting and reporting Cervical Screening Tests.
  • Optimise the management of women with screen detected abnormalities.
  • Monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the program.

The Program operates within the National Cervical Screening Program policies and guidelines. The program aims to increase participation in cervical screening in order to reduce morbidity and mortality due to cervical cancer.

What have we achieved?

Since the introduction of the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) in 1991, incidence and death from cervical cancer has halved in Australia.

The changes to the National Cervical Screening Program in 2017 are expected to reduce the number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer by about 20%.

In the two-year period between 2013 and 2014, 57% of eligible NSW women aged 20 to 69 years participated in the program in NSW.

More about the campaigns and projects that drive the activities of the NSW Cervical Screening Program.

Access the latest reports on cervical screening in NSW.