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Cervical self-collection

As part of the changes to the National Cervical Screening Program introduced in December 2017, certain women who are not up-to-date with their cervical screening may be eligible to collect their own sample of cervical cells for testing. This is called self-collection.

How does self-collection work?

Self-collection of cell samples can only take place under the supervision of a health professional. It does not mean you’ll be given a kit to take home and complete, however you can take the sample yourself in private, i.e. within a clinic or general practice.

If the human papillomavirus (HPV) is detected in the self-collected sample, depending on the type of HPV, the woman will need to return to her health professional for either:

  • a follow-up sample collection, performed by a clinician
  • referral to a specialist for a colposcopy

Who is eligible for self-collection?

The following women may be eligible to self-collect a sample for their Cervical Screening Test (the Pap test replacement*):

  • Women aged 30 or over who have never had cervical screening; or
  • Women aged 30 or over who are overdue for cervical screening by two years or more

Why was self-collection introduced?

Self-collection for cervical screening was introduced in response to low rates of participation in cervical screening among particular groups of women.

What happens if I self-collect and the result comes back positive?

You will need to return to a clinic to have a Cervical Screening Test, this time with support from a health professional.

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