Cervical Cancer Screening

Your health matters to us

An overarching goal of the National Health Co-op is to significantly reduce instances of preventable diseases and lessen the personal and societal impact of chronic conditions. That’s why we regularly review our patients’ files to identify individuals who may benefit from additional clinical support.

Cervical cancer screening

On 1 December 2017, the Pap test was replaced with a new Cervical Screening Test every five years. The latest scientific and medical evidence shows that having a Cervical Screening Test every five years is just as safe, and is more effective than having a Pap test every two years. The test is a quick and simple procedure to check the health of the cervix (neck of the womb). If you have ever had a Pap test before, the way the new test is done will look and feel the same, however the way the sample is processed and tested in the lab is different. 

The Cervical Screening Test aims to detect the human papilloma virus (HPV).  HPV can cause abnormalities in the cells of the cervix. In some cases those abnormalities may progress to pre-cancer and then to cancer.  It can take up to 10 years or more for abnormalities caused by this virus to develop into cervical cancer. The new Cervical Screening Test is more effective at detecting HPV and cervical abnormalities than the previous Pap test, and allows detection of abnormalities at an earlier stage. Because the new test is superior to the Pap test, women can now have the test every five years instead of the Pap test, which was recommended every two years. It is expected that the change from the Pap test to the Cervical Screening Test will protect up to 30% more women from cervical cancer.

 

If you are a woman between 25 – 74 years of age and have ever been sexually active, you should have a Cervical Screening Test every five years until age 74. Your first Cervical Screening test is due at 25 years of age or two years after your last Pap test. If your result is normal your next test will be in five years’ time. More frequent cervical screening is recommended if the Cervical Screening Test results come back abnormal; this will be discussed with you by your doctor.

Additionally, while a Cervical Screening Test is a good screening test, if you develop any unusual symptoms (e.g. discharge, abnormal vaginal bleeding) despite an up-to-date Normal Cervical Screening Test result, please do not hesitate to see your GP to discuss your symptoms as this could warrant further investigation.

If you have had a hysterectomy (surgical removal of the uterus/womb) but your cervix is still intact, you should still have regular Cervical Screening Tests. If you have had surgery and are unsure whether your cervix is still intact, please see your GP for a review and discussion about this.

 

Cervical Screening Tests are bulk-billed for all eligible women. If you would like to have a Cervical Screening Test done, have concerns from previous Pap tests, or would just like to know more about the procedure, please make an appointment with your GP. If it is your preference, you can request a female doctor. 

Further information on the Cervical Screening Test and cervical cancer is available from the Australian Government’s Department of Health and the Cancer Council.