About the National Cervical Screening Program

The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) is a Government-funded initiative established in 1991, with the aim of reducing rates of cervical cancer in Australian women.

The primary purpose of the NCSP is to identify women at higher risk of eventually developing cervical cancer, so they can be monitored and treated appropriately.

To do this, the NCSP provides a Cervical Screening Test (the Pap test replacement*), which looks for the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV). In almost all cases, an HPV infection that does not clear up is the first step in the development of cervical cancer.

Since the introduction of the NCSP, the number of both cervical cancer cases and deaths from cervical cancer has reduced by half.

[1] World Health Organisation. Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Factsheet. WHO. [Online] 3 September 2010. [Cited: 19 May 2015.] http://www.who.int/immunization/topics/hpv/en/.

Changes to the National Cervical Screening Program

In December 2017, a new Cervical Screening Test replaced the Pap test. This change is based on significant advances in science and technology, and improved understanding of how cervical cancer develops.

The Cervical Screening Test looks for human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the main cause of cervical cancer. By finding an HPV infection, which can cause cells in the cervix to change and may eventually develop into cervical cancer, the Cervical Screening Test will prevent more women being diagnosed with cervical cancer than the Pap test did[1].

[1] Ronco G, Dillner J, Elfstrom KM, et al. Efficacy of HPV-based screening for prevention of invasive cervical cancer: follow-up of four European randomised controlled trials. Lancet 2014;383:524-32. [Online]