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Pap smears

Changes to cervical screening

From 1 December 2017 the National Cervical Screening Program will change to improve early detection. The current 2 yearly Pap test for women aged 18 to 69 will change to a 5 yearly HPV test for women aged 25 to 74 called a Cervical Screening Test. This test is more accurate.

You still need a Cervical Screening Test even if you have been vaccinated against HPV.

See your doctor if you have any symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge or pain.

When will I be due for my first HPV test?
Women will be due for the first HPV test 2 years after their last Pap test.

More information
Read more about changes to National Cervical Screening Program

The Cervical Screening Test detects the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which is the first step in developing cervical cancer. It is not a test for cancer.

It is done in the same way as a Pap smear. A small sample of cells is taken from the woman’s cervix.

Cells can change and become abnormal if a woman is exposed to the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). This is a very common virus that is spread through direct skin to skin contact (which often occurs during sex). The majority of people carry the virus only.

There are many different strains of HPV (over 100), but only a few of these may go on to cause cancer. The other types usually go undetected or occasionally cause genital warts in some people.

If the results of your cervical screening come back as abnormal, further testing will be done on the sample your doctor collected to look at the cells in the sample. If these are abnormal, or if you have a high risk strain of HPV present, your doctor will refer you to a specialist or a specialist clinic for more detailed examination and testing of your cervix.

Pap smears can be performed by your doctor.

Last reviewed: August 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 121 results

Cervical Screening Registry

Cervical cytology registers operate in all states and territories in Australia to deliver an organised approach to cervical screening.

Read more on WA Health website

RANZCOG WEBSITE - Cervical Screening in Australia

In the past, it was recommended that sexually active womenhave Pap smear tests every two years

Read more on RANZCOG - Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website

Cervical Screening Test results - what do they mean? :: SA Health

Not sure what a high risk Cervical Screening Test result means? Here we explain the types of results and what it means for you

Read more on SA Health website

Cervical screening (Pap smear) and prevention | Health and wellbeing | Queensland Government

Regular cervical screening via a Pap smear is the best way to prevent cervical cancer as it can detect changes to the cells of the cervix that can be treated before cancer develops. In Queensland, the Queensland Health Pap Smear Register will send you a reminder notice when you are overdue for a Pap smear as well as providing access to your Pap smear result history for your doctor or pathology laboratory.

Read more on Queensland Health website

Women's health - NT.GOV.AU

General information about women's health, bacterial vaginosis, thrush, pelvic inflammatory disease and cervical screening.

Read more on NT Health website

Cervical cancer screening program - Cancer Council Australia

Women aged 18 to 70 are advised to get a Pap test every two years. Find out about HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Get the Pap Text

"Get the Pap Text" is an initiative to remind people when they need to get a pap test with a periodical text. Getting a Pap Text is simple! Just complete the form below. Give us your email address to also receive an email confirmation and reminder.

Read more on Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation website

Routine antenatal tests

Information on routine antenatal screening tests during pregnancy including weight and height, blood tests, infections, pap test, plus links to trusted resources.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Cervical cancer - National Cancer Control Policy

Read cervical cancer impact, prevention, screening and related public policy to reduce bowel cancer burden

Read more on Cancer Council Australia website

Pap smear screening program: Ask a Health Question | Women's Health Queensland Wide

Q I have heard that in the near future women are only going to need to have Pap smears every five years. I am 33 and my Pap smear is overdue by about 12 months. Should I just leave it now and have it when the new program starts? Health_Journey_Issue_1_2015.pdf

Read more on Women's Health Queensland Wide website

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