Frequently asked questions – cervical screening

Some frequently asked questions about cervical screening.

Page last updated: 28 October 2016

From 1 May 2017, the Pap test will be replaced by a five yearly Cervical Screening Test. Until then, if you are aged between 18-69 years and have ever been sexually active, you should continue to have your Pap test when due.

Read more about the future changes to cervical screening.

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All women with a cervix who have ever had sex are at risk of cervical cancer, even if they are not currently sexually active, and are currently recommended to screen until 69 years of age. This includes any woman that has genital skin to genital skin contact with another person.

If you have never been sexually active, cervical screening is not recommended. Evidence shows that if a woman has never been sexually active then her risk of developing cervical cancer is very low.

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Yes. If you have ever had any sexual activity, even with only one partner, it is important to have screening until you are 69 years of age.

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Following a hysterectomy, women should discuss their ongoing need for cervical screening with their doctor.

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Yes. Human papillomavirus (HPV) can be transmitted between women, therefore screening is recommended.

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The National Cervical Screening Program recommends that cervical screening should be offered to every woman presenting for antenatal care who has not been screened within the past two years.

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DES-exposed women should be offered annual screening and have a colposcopic examination of both the cervix and the vagina. Screening should begin any time at the woman’s request and continue indefinitely.

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Yes. All women with a cervix who have ever had sex are at risk of cervical cancer. If you have a disability, call 13 15 56 to speak to your state or territory cervical screening register for support to locate services appropriate for you.

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The benefits and risk of treating cervical abnormalities should be discussed with your doctor, as the potential benefits and harms will vary for individual women.

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You can ask the health care professional who did your last Pap smear or contact your state or territory cervical screening register on 13 15 56.

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In general, immunosuppressed women are at greater risk of developing cervical cancer. It is recommended that if an immunosuppressed woman has a screen-detected abnormality (even if the cell changes are low-grade) she should be referred for a colposcopy.

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No. There are different tests and procedures for diagnosing ovarian cancer. More information is available on the Cancer Australia website.

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If you have difficulty communicating in English, ring the Translating and Interpreting Services for assistance on 13 14 50, or read more information in your language.

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