Cervical Screening

What is cervical screening?

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and curable of all cancers. Having a Cervical Screening Test every five years can reduce the risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer by up to 96 per cent, yet only 50.9 per cent of eligible women in the South Western Sydney area are having a pap test regularly.

It is recommended that all women aged 25-74 years of age who have ever been sexually active, should have a Cervical Screening Test every five years, even if they have received the HPV vaccine.

  • Every year around 800 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and approximately 250 women die each year.
  • 80% of these women have either never screened or have had irregular screening

Support for general practice

South Western Sydney PHN can work with and support general practitioners to ensure their female patients are screened via:

  • Assistance with identifying patients who are due or overdue for screening – support to access overdue lists from the pap test register
  • Support to implement recall and reminder systems for due and/or overdue women
  • Practice visits to assist with education and/or set-up: Item numbers and cervical screening PIP information, recording pap smears in medical software, education
  • Provide patient information resources
  • Increase in the number of trained Practice Nurses to conduct Cervical Screening

The National Cancer Screening Register

The National Cancer Screening Register has replaced the NSW Pap Test Register (from 1 December 2017).  The National Cancer Screening Register enables one electronic record for every Australian participating in cervical screening and bowel screening (transitioning in 2018). It allows health professionals to request screening histories, results and pathways- as a source of information.

To access the Register via phone: 1800 627 701 (cervical screening) or 1800 115 062 (bowel screening).  To access the Register via fax: 1800 627 702

Find out more about cervical screening

To find out more about how South Western Sydney PHN can assist you and your practice, contact Jackie Caton (Integrated Health Coordinator) on (02) 4632 3000 or email jacqueline.caton@swsphn.com.au 

Future changes to cervical screening

The Australian Government has accepted the recommendations of the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) that a primary human papillomavirus (HPV) test replaces the current Pap test for cervical screening.

What are the changes?

  • The renewed National Cervical Screening Program will invite women aged 25 to 74 years, both HPV vaccinated and unvaccinated, to undertake an HPV test every 5 years instead of a Pap smear every two years.
  • HPV vaccinated women will still require cervical screening as the HPV vaccine does not protect against all the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
  • The new programme commenced on 1 May, 2017, when the primary HPV screening test became available on the Medicare Benefits - MBS information

Further information around these changes may be accessed at http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/cervical-screening-1

Useful links

National Cervical Screening Program

Cervical Screening NSW

National Cancer Screening Register

Family Planning NSW 

Pathology Test Guide for Cervical and Vaginal Testing