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Cervical Screening

The General Practitioners practicing at Glebe Hill Family Practice and GHFP Nurture provide cervical screening testing. Cervical cancer is preventable with regular Cervical Screening. By having your 5 yearly CST you are preventing cervical cancer.

If you are a person with a cervix aged 25 to 74 years of age and have ever been sexually active you should have a Cervical Screening Test every 5 years until the age of 74. Your first Cervical Screening Test is due at 25 years of age. If your results are normal you will be due to have your next tests in 5 years. All people who have a cervix aged 25 and over should have cervical screening regularly even if they have had the HPV vaccination.

You should get a Cervical Screening Test every five years if you:

  • are aged between 25 and 74
  • have had any type of sexual contact (with any person, even of the same gender)
  • are a woman / person with a cervix.
  • You should get a test even if you:
  • have had the HPV vaccines
  • are not currently sexually active
  • have had the same partner for a long time or only had one partner
  • are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
  • are pregnant
  • have been through menopause
  • feel healthy and have no symptoms.

A five-yearly Cervical Screening Test is more effective than the old two-yearly Pap test

On December 1 2017, the Pap test was replaced with a new Cervical Screening Test (CST). The CST is a more accurate, effective and safe test to have every 5 years instead of the 2-yearly Pap test. The new CST is taken in the same way as a pap smear, with a speculum examination, so it will feel the same to you. The way the sample is stored and tested is different. The new CST detects infection with Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which causes over 90% of cervical cancers. Evidence shows that screening for HPV every 5 years is just as safe as, and more effective than, screening with a Pap smear every 2 years. Most women and men will become infected with HPV at some point in their lives. The virus is so common that it can be considered a normal part of ever being sexually active. In most cases the virus clears up by itself within 1-2 years.

Starting cervical screening at age 25 is safe

The International Agency for Research on Cancer recommends that cervical screening commence at the earliest at age 25 because “there is minimal benefit and substantial harm in screening below age 25” (IARC 2005). It is a fact that screening before the age of 25 does not prevent cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is rare in women under 25 years, and and rates in this age group have remained unchanged in Australia despite screening. Screening before the age of 25 can cause harm because it leads to many women receiving treatment for cell changes caused by HPV that would never have become cancers but were destined to resolve on their own.

The National Cancer Screening Register

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) will invite and remind women to participate in the NCSP.


Recent evidence shows a Cervical Screening Test using a self-collected sample from your vagina is just as safe and as accurate at detecting HPV as a clinician-collected sample taken from the cervix during a speculum examination. If you are eligible and decide collecting your own sample is the best option for you, your healthcare provider will give you a swab and instructions on how to collect your sample. A self-collected sample is taken from the vagina (not the cervix). All you need to do is insert a swab a few centimetres into your vagina and rotate it for 20 to 30 seconds. You usually collect the sample in a private space at the medical centre, such as in the patient toilet.

However, because self-collection looks for HPV only – not cervical cell abnormalities – it is generally not appropriate for people who have symptoms of cervical cancer or if you are experiencing unusual bleeding, pain or discharge. Talk to your GP about whether self-collection is the best option for you.

More information can be found here: Cervical Screening Self-Collection