The National Cervical Screening Program is changing. From 1 December 2017:
- the Pap smear will be replaced with the more accurate Cervical Screening Test known as molecular testing for oncogenic Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
- the time between tests will change from two to five years
- the age at which screening starts will increase from 18 years to 25 years
- women aged 70 to 74 years will be invited to have an exit test.
Women of any age who have symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge and pain should see their Health Care Professional immediately.
HPV vaccinated women still require cervical screening as the HPV vaccine does not protect against all the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
A 2015-16 Australian Government Budget commitment provides funding to implement these recommended changes to the National Cervical Screening Program and establish a National Cancer Screening Register to support the new program.
The new program will commence from 1 December 2017 when the new Cervical Screening Test will become available on the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
The changes to cervical screening test is due to better understanding of how cervical cancer developed. It is now known the HPV is a necessary, but not sufficient, cause of this disease.
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