This is where cervical self-collection comes into the equation: Our research found that offering cervical self-collection to everyone who’s eligible should help to lift participation rates and further improve cervical cancer survival in Australia. Cervical self-collection gives people more choice and control; it is a less invasive approach to the standard speculum procedure.
Informed by our research, the Australian government introduced universal cervical self-collection in Australia’s NCSP from 1 July 2022. Those who prefer to have a screening sample collected by a doctor can continue to do so.
The early signs are promising
After its first year, we can see that self-collection has already changed the way people access the NCSP. The early signs are very promising.
After a slow start, the proportion of cervical screening tests that were self-collected vs collected with a doctor has increased.
“It’s really promising to see this uptake of cervical self-collection in NSW. With effective promotion, it will play a crucial part in addressing inequities in cervical cancer and screening across Australia”, says Caitlin Vasica, Manager of Community & Screening at Cancer Council NSW.
What’s next for cervical screening in Australia
Cancer Council NSW is working hard to raise awareness of the NCSP and self-collection as an option among underscreened communities.
For example, in the 2022/23 financial year, we conducted 46 activations promoting the program, with 50% of these targeted towards culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Looking further ahead, with more people participating in screening, we hope to see even fewer people die of cervical cancer.
Currently, around 900 women in Australia are diagnosed with cervical cancer and around 250 women die from it each year.
If you are overdue or have never been screened, it is important to get tested. Although self-collection is not yet available to all women, many women are eligible – ask your healthcare provider about it. Women aged 30 or older who haven’t had a screening test in the last four years are eligible for self-collection now.