Supporting patients with specific needs

Cervical screening is for all women aged 25-74 who have ever been sexually active. If you have a patient with specific needs, we’ve outlined the options available to help ensure a comfortable screening experience.

Women from non-English speaking backgrounds 

Women from non-English speaking backgrounds may not have access to the same level of health information as other Australian women. This is why it’s crucial to explain the importance of regular cervical screening to women from this group, as well as the effectiveness of the Cervical Screening Test (the Pap test replacement*) in preventing cervical cancer.

To support women from non-English speaking backgrounds, you can:

  • Explain to your patient that interpreters are available to help her make the appointment and can also attend the appointment with her. Patients can arrange an interpreter by calling Translating and Interpreting Services on 13 14 50.
  • Be responsive and respond to any questions about cervical screening.
  • Encourage your patient to bring a friend or family member to her appointment if it will make her feel more comfortable.
  • For more information on cervical screening, your patients can access a range of free resources in up to 35 languages, using our Resources Directory

*If you are a test provider who speaks a language other than English, ensure you have included these details on the Cervical Screening Test Provider Directory – click here to update your details.

Women with disabilities

To provide a comfortable screening experience for women with disabilities, many clinics and doctor’s rooms are designed to assist wheelchair users and women with other disabilities.

If your clinic or rooms are not accessible, you or your patient can contact Family Planning NSW, as all its clinics are accessible to and inclusive for women with physical disabilities.

Pregnant women

Pregnant women may have specific concerns about having a Cervical Screening Test during their pregnancy.

If your patient is pregnant, advise her of the safety of the Cervical Screening Test, and explain any potential complications relating to further tests and/or treatment if she receives a higher risk result.

For pregnant women, the recommended tool for collecting the sample in a Cervical Screening Test is a broom-type brush – the endocervical brush is not recommended. Due to the risk of bleeding, the tool should not be inserted into the cervical canal.

If your patient is pregnant, she should not self-collect a sample.

Routine antenatal care should include cervical screening when it is due or overdue - for some women, pregnancy will provide the first opportunity for cervical screening.

More information is available on the National Cancer Screening Program website.

Women with hearing difficulties

If your patient is deaf or has hearing difficulties, you can refer her to the National Relay Service on 1800 627 701. This service will assist your patient in booking her Cervical Screening Test appointment and may also provide help during the appointment.

*In December 2017, the cervical screening test replaced the Pap test as the method of screening women to prevent cervical cancer in Australia.