Changes to Cervical Screening

Information for Doctors

  • On December 1, 2017, the cytology-based Pap test will be completely replaced by the Cervical Screening Test (CST).
  • The CST will be the only Medicare-funded routine cervical screening test, and will be available to women aged 25 to 74 years.
  • Specimens need to be collected by clinicians into ThinPrep® vials.
  • Request forms must specify the requested test PLUS the reason for test PLUS supporting clinical notes.
  • REVISED: On advice from National Cervical Screening Program and Department of Health, Self-collection of CST samples should not be offered to women until further notice.

    You will be advised when this becomes an available part of the renewed screening program.

A risk-based approach

The CST uses an HPV DNA test to detect the presence of oncogenic HPV types known to be associated with a higher risk of developing significant cervical abnormalities. The HPV test is more sensitive than cytology, so it can be performed less frequently.

  • Asymptomatic women who test negative for oncogenic HPV are at low risk of developing cervical cancer and only need to be screened every 5 years.
  • Asymptomatic women who test positive for oncogenic HPV will have a liquid-based cytology (LBC) test performed on the same sample (reflex LBC) and will be assessed as either intermediate risk and advised to return for further testing in 12 months, or higher risk and referred for colposcopy.
  • Symptomatic women and those with a history of high-grade cervical pathology will have both an HPV and LBC test (Co-test) performed, regardless of their HPV result.
  • Women with special circumstances identified by the program may be offered more frequent screening or a single screening test prior to age 25.

Available resources

In order to help you prepare for the changes on December 1, 2017, we have created a range of resources which are available to be downloaded using the links below.

Guide for Clinicians

Collection Guide

Flowcharts for 'Transition to the renewed National Cervical Screening Program' & 'Test of Cure (ToC)'

Flowcharts for 'Pathway for routine cervical screening' & 'Investigation of women with abnormal vaginal bleeding'

Self Collect Procedure - Please note swabs for the CST self-collect are currently unavailable

Information for Patients

Resource Order Form

Swab Guide - December 2017 update

Cervical Screening Renewal - R U Ready? December 2017 Revision

Contact us

For further information on the new program, please contact our Cytology Department on (03) 9287 7718.


Previous information sheets

Cervical Screening Renewal - Important Information: April 2017 update

Cervical Screening Renewal: March 2017 update

Cervical Screening Renewal: July 2016

Recommendations to changes for cervical screening: April 2014