Changes from the Pap Smear to the Cervical Screening Test

Did you know…

  • The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) has recently changed.
  • The two-yearly Pap smear has been replaced with a new five-yearly Cervical Screening Test.
  • The latest medical and scientific evidence shows that having a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years is just as safe, and more effective than, having a Pap smear every 2 years.
  • Anyone with a cervix, aged 25 to 74 years, who has ever been sexually active should have a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years.

These changes are the result of a rigorous review of the latest medical research, scientific developments and evidence relating to cervical cancer. The changes to the program are expected to protect up to 30% more women from cervical cancer.

What is the Cervical Screening Test?

The test will look for the presence of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and, if found, look for any cervical cell abnormalities. This allows for monitoring and if needed, treatment of these abnormalities, to prevent cervical cancer.

The procedure for having a Cervical Screening Test is the same as the procedure for having a Pap smear. A small sample of cells will be collected from the cervix and sent to a pathology laboratory for examination.

While the Pap Smear looked for any abnormal cervical cell changes, the Cervical Screening Test looks for the HPV infection that can cause abnormal cell changes. If HPV is found, the same cervical sample is then re-tested to look for any abnormal cervical cells. Since the Cervical Screening Test is more accurate than the Pap smear, women with a ‘HPV negative’ (or ‘HPV not detected’) test result will only need to screen every 5 years.


Do I still need a Cervical Screening Test even if I’ve had the HPV vaccine?

Yes. The human papillomavirus (HPV vaccine) does not protect against all types of HPV infection that are known to cause cervical cancer.


At Fremantle Women’s Health Centre, we are able to provide Cervical Screening Tests for anyone with a cervix. Call us on 9431 0500 to make an appointment.

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