Changes to the National Cervical Screening Program
Why is the program changing?
The Australian Government has accepted the evidence-based Medical Services Advisory Committee’s (MSAC) recommendation to replace the two-yearly Pap test with a new five-yearly cervical screening test.
What is the new cervical screening test?
The new cervical screening test will detect the persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that may cause abnormal cell changes, prior to the development of cervical cancer. The procedure for collecting the sample for a HPV test will be the same as the procedure for having a Pap test.
Who needs to get tested?
The renewed National Cervical Screening Program will invite women aged 25 to 74 years, both HPV vaccinated and unvaccinated, to undertake a HPV test every 5 years. HPV vaccinated women will still require cervical screening as the HPV vaccine does not protect against all the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
Women of any age who have symptoms (including pain or bleeding) should speak to their doctor or nurse immediately and not wait until their next test.
What will happen to the NSW Pap Test Register?
A National Cancer Screening Register will be established to support the new program.
When do the changes take effect?
The new program will commence on 1 May 2017 when the primary HPV screening test will become available on the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
Until the new program commences, it is vital that women continue to have their two-yearly Pap tests as soon as they are due.
More information about these changes can be found on the National Cervical Screening Program and NPS Medicinewise websites.