About 930 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Australia each year. Cancer of the cervix is one of the most preventable cancers.
Cervical screening test
The cervical screening test replaced the Pap test in 2017. It detects cancer-causing types of HPV in a sample of cells taken from the cervix.
The National Cervical Screening Program recommends that women aged 25–74 have a cervical screening test two years after their last Pap test, and then once every five years. Some women are able to self-collect their sample – you can ask your doctor if this is an option for you. For more information, talk to your doctor or visit cervicalscreening.org.au.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by infection with human papillomavirus (HPV).
Smoking and long-term use of oral contraceptives increase the risk for women infected with HPV.
Reducing your risk
When the HPV vaccine is given in adolescence, it provides strong protection against cervical cancer.
If you are under 20 and weren’t vaccinated at school, talk to your doctor about having the vaccine now.
For women aged 25 and older, the best protection against cervical cancer is cervical screening.
Cervical cancer usually has no symptoms in its early stages. The screening test is the most effective way to find any precancerous changes or early cervical cancer, which can then be treated.
The HPV vaccine does not protect against all strains of HPV, so it’s important to have regular cervical screening tests whether you are vaccinated or not.
A cervical screening test is a test for women who do not have symptoms. If you have symptoms such as pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, always see your doctor straight away – regardless of your age or when you were last screened.