The new national cervical screening program

12 December 2017

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and routine screening has played a vital role in significantly reducing the incidence rate since national screening began in the 1990’s. It's widely acknowledged that regular cervical screening is the best protection against cervical cancer. Still, every year around 800 Australian women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, 80% of whom have never been screened or have not screened regularly. Starting this December cervical screening in Australia will change to a more accurate and less frequent test.

The new Cervical Screening Test (CST)

The new Cervical Screening Test (CST) is for people aged 25 to 74, with a five-yearly test replacing the previous two-yearly Pap test for people aged 18 to 69. This includes people both vaccinated and unvaccinated for HPV, as well as people who identify as lesbian or transgender.

The new CST will be more effective at detecting women at risk of developing cervical cancer by screening for the human papillomavirus (known as HPV), which is the cause of nearly all cervical cancers. HPV is a common virus that is spread by genital skin-to-skin contact during sexual activity. It is so common that many people have it at some point in their lives and never know it as there are usually no symptoms.

People who have had the HPV vaccine will still need cervical screening because the vaccine does not protect from all the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.

The new test is a result of new evidence and better technology, which will help improve early detection of cervical cancer and ultimately save lives. In fact it is expected that CST will protect up to 30% more women, and prevent an additional 140 cervical cancers each year.

If you would like to find out more about cervical screening and understand how the program works in Australia, contact the National Cervical Screening Program on 13 15 56 or email:

Selected cervical cancer screening content on CKN.

Cancer screening education: Can it change knowledge and attitudes among culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Queensland, Australia
Cullerton, Katherine. Health Promotion Journal of Australia 

Have you had the HPV vaccine?: You still need to be screened for cervical cancer
Butler, Alexis. Australian Nursing and Midwifery Journal

Change management in healthcare: Managing paradigmatic change in the Australian national cervical screening programme
Lawrence, Gwendoline A. New Zealand Journal of Medical Laboratory Science

Cervical cancer prevention in Australia: Planning for the future.
Saville, A. Marion. Cancer Cytopathology

Cervial Cancer Screenining: Topic on DynaMed Plus

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