In our latest blog about cervical screening, we answered some of the common questions that our clients ask us (so you may want to read that before you read any further). Another question we get asked is about the announced changes to the National Cervical Screening Program.
You may or may not have heard about the proposed changes, so in a nutshell this is what it all means and how it may affect you.
Out with the old, in with the new
The Australian Government has accepted a recommendation to replace the current two yearly Pap Smear test with a new five yearly test.
The current Pap Smear test detects abnormal cell changes, whereas the new test will detect the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that causes abnormal cell changes.
The procedure for the new HPV test is the same as the procedure for having a Pap smear. This new test, together with the HPV vaccination, will hopefully reduce the number of cervical cancers by an additional 15%.
In the meantime, it’s business as usual
The new screening test will be available on the Medicare Benefits Schedule from 1 May 2017, but until then do not delay your two yearly Pap Smear test. If you have any symptoms such as unusual bleeding or pain, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible.
HPV test: recommended for ages 25+
All women aged 25-74 will be invited to have the new HPV test every five years. If you’re under 25 years you may be wondering why you’ve been excluded from this new program. This is because evidence shows:
- Cervical cancer in young women is rare
- Screening women under 25 has not changed the number of cases of cervical cancer or deaths in this age group
- The HPV vaccination has already been shown to reduce cervical abnormalities in women under 25 and will continue to do so.
Tell me more about what’s going on!
If you want more information on the new program, please visit www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/future-changes-cervical