Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program

From 1 December 2017 the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) has changed. 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 was introduced from 1 December 2017. At this time:

  • a five-yearly Cervical Screening Test replaced the two-yearly Pap smear. The Cervical Screening Test looks for the presence of human papillomavirus (HPV) and, if found, a reflex liquid based cytology (LBC) test is performed on the same sample to check for any abnormal cervical cells
  • the screening age range changed to 25-74 years
  • a risk based approach to cervical screening was adopted, with women receiving a result based on their risk of developing significant cervical abnormalities in the following five years
  • new Medicare Benefits Schedule items are available for this new screening pathway

A self-collection option is available for women 30 years of age or over, who are under-screened (two or more years overdue for screening) or never screened and have declined invitations and reminders for screening with a provider collected cervical sample.

Read the frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Education and professional development

In support of the changes a number of education and professional development opportunities are available to health professionals. 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:

Produced by

WA Cervical Cancer Prevention Program