Cervical Screening Test

Since 2017, Australian health professionals have offered a Cervical Screening Test in place of the former Pap smear test. Because virtually all cases of cervical cancer are caused by strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the Cervical Screening program is designed to work alongside the HPV vaccination program to help reduce the incidence of cervical cancer.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection which often shows no symptoms and tends to go away by itself. Persistent HPV infection, however, can cause abnormal cells to develop on the cervix. Over time, these abnormal cells may develop into cervical cancer if left untreated. About 800 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Australia each year. Of these, about 80% typically occur in women who have never screened or were not up-to-date with their screening.

There are now two alternative ways of performing a Cervical Screening Test.

  1. The first option is similar to a Pap smear test that many women will be familiar with. A doctor or nurse takes a sample of cells from the cervix. This option is recommended if you have had abnormal bleeding (e.g., bleeding between periods) or if it is the next screening test after a colposcopy.
  2. The second option was introduced in 2022; self-collection. If you choose to self-collect, the doctor will give you a swab that you would take to our restroom. All you need to do is insert the swab a few centimetres into your vagina and rotate it for 20 to 30 seconds. It’s that simple.

Because most women under the age of 25 will have been vaccinated for HPV, and because cervical cancer in women under 25 is rare, the Cervical Screening program kicks-in when women reach 25 years of age. Women aged 25 to 74 years of age should have a Cervical Screening Test two years after their last Pap smear test. Subsequently, they will only need to have the test every 5 years if their results are normal.

Please visit our Appointments page to book a time for your Cervical Screening Test with one of the best doctors of Brunswick and Northcote.