National Cervical Screening Policy

Page last updated: 30 April 2018

The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) aims to reduce morbidity and mortality from cervical cancer. This will be achieved through an organised population-based screening pathway to detect pre-cancerous cervical abnormalities in asymptomatic women1.

The renewed national policy2 recommends:

  1. Cervical screening should be undertaken every five years in asymptomatic women, using a primary human papillomavirus (HPV) test with partial genotyping and reflex liquid based cytology triage;
  2. Women who have ever been sexually active should commence cervical screening at 25 years of age;
  3. Women aged 25 years or older and less than 70 years will receive invitations and reminders to participate in the program;
  4. Women will be invited to exit the program by having a HPV test between 70 years or older and less than 75 years of age and may cease cervical screening if their test result is negative;
  5. Women 75 years of age or older who have either never had a cervical screening test or have not had one in the previous five years, may request a cervical screening test and can be screened;
  6. An alternative screening process is available for women who are under-screened or never-screened and have declined invitations and reminders for conventional screening (see Self-Collection Policy)3;
  7. All women, both HPV vaccinated and unvaccinated, are included in the program;
  8. Women with positive cervical screening test results should be followed up in accordance with the cervical screening pathway and the NCSP: Guidelines for the management of screen detected abnormalities, screening women in specific populations and investigation of women with abnormal vaginal bleeding (2016 Guidelines)4; and
  9. Monitoring and evaluation of the program will be in accordance with the NCSP Quality Framework.

1 Women with symptoms require diagnostic testing and should be managed in accordance with the 2016 Guidelines.
2 The NCSP policy is in accordance with the Medical Services Advisory Committee recommendations, April 2014 (Application 1276).
3 For the purposes of the National Policies, alternative screening refers to cervical screening on self-collected vaginal samples and conventional screening refers to cervical screening on practitioner collected cervical samples.
4 The 2016 Guidelines include recommendations on how to manage women who have HPV detected in their screening test; how to test women with symptoms, a previous abnormality or women in specific populations (who may be at higher risk of cervical cancer than the average population); and will advise when women who have been treated for an abnormality can resume screening as per the national policy.

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