Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program

From 1 December 2017 the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will change. These changes are the outcome of the Renewal, a rigorous assessment of the evidence and economics of potential screening pathways, tests and intervals.

The NCSP has been highly successful; however, since its introduction in 1991:

  • New international and local evidence has emerged about the optimal screening age range, intervals for screening and alternative screening methods 
  • New technologies are available that support new screening tests
  • The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has become available

The Renewal aims to ensure that all women in Australia, HPV vaccinated and unvaccinated, continue to have access to a cervical screening program that is acceptable, effective, efficient and based on current evidence.

Renewal changes

As a result of the Renewal review process, a new cervical screening pathway will be introduced from 1 December 2017. At this time:

  • a five-yearly Cervical Screening Test will replace the two-yearly Pap smear. The test looks for the presence of HPV and, if found, a reflex liquid based cytology (LBC) test is performed on the same sample to check for abnormal cervical cells
  • the screening age range will change to 25-74 years
  • a risk based approach to cervical screening will be adopted, with women receiving a result based on their risk of developing significant cervical abnormalities in the following five years
  • a self-collection option will be available for women 30 years of age or over, who are under-screened or never screened and have declined invitations and reminders for conventional screening
  • new Medicare Benefits Schedule items will be available (from 1 December 2017) for the Cervical Screening Test

These changes will not take place until 1 December 2017. Until then women should be encouraged to have their Pap smear when they are due. Cervical screening should not be delayed.

Read the frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Resources

Links to resources and support for health professionals:

Education and professional development

In support of the changes a number of education and professional development opportunities are available to health professionals in Western Australia. These activities seek to support health professionals understanding of the Renewal and to assist providers in their implementation of these changes into practice.

Online training:

Upcoming opportunities:

Videos:


Produced by

WA Cervical Cancer Prevention Program