Peer Reviewed
Women's health

Changes to the cervical cancer screening program in Australia

Karen Canfell, Marion Saville, Ian Hammond, Lara Roeske
Recommended changes in the Renewed National Cervical Screening Program due to be introduced in Australia in May 2017 include replacing the Pap smear with a cervical HPV test that includes partial HPV genotyping for the highest oncogenic risk types and conducting this screening every five years between the ages of 25 and 69 years.
Key Points

    Australia is the first country in the world to announce large-scale changes to cervical screening as a direct response to the successful implementation of human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination. Since the National HPV Vaccination Program began in 2007, a significant reduction has been seen in the prevalence of confirmed high-grade cervical abnormalities in young women. This, together with an accumulation of international evidence on the greater sensitivity of HPV testing (detection of HPV in cervical cells) compared with Pap testing (detection of abnormal or potentially abnormal cells from a cervical sample) in the detection of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2 or higher (CIN2+) lesions, has led to the development of new recommendations on cervical screening. These recommendations emerged from an evidence-based process of review and are that:

    • HPV screening is conducted every five years in women aged 25 years and older
    • women are discharged from screening when they reach their early 70s.

    Picture credit: © Charles Milligan/Phototake/

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