Nearly one million NSW women overdue for Pap test as new cervical screening program kicks off

More than one million women overdue for their pap test are being urged to have the more effective, five-early Cervical Screening Test, expected to reduce cervical cancer deaths by at least 20 per cent.

NSW’s Chief Cancer Officer and Chief Health Officer have joined experts from Cancer Council NSW and Family Planning NSW to ensure women get the message about the new test, which replaced the pap test last week.

The new test detects the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that may cause cervical cancer.

The previous pap test could only detect changes in the cells once they had occurred, whereas this test will allow doctors to identify and monitor women with HPV, who may be at a higher risk of these changes occurring. 

Women who are negative for HPV will have five years before their next screen.

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, also urged women to speak with their GP about the new Cervical Screening Test.

“Cervical screening has been one of the great public health success stories of our generation, halving both the incidence and mortality rates for cervical cancer,” Dr Chant said.

Director of Research at Cancer Council NSW Professor Karen Canfell said the new program was excellent news for all women.

“Recent results from Australia’s largest clinical trial, Compass, have shown that the new Cervical Screening Test is substantially more effective than the pap test,” she said. 

“Our research also tells us that the renewed program will reduce cervical cancer cases and deaths by at least 20 per cent. Australia has been a leader in this space for decades, and it’s exciting to see us at the forefront of cervical cancer prevention again.”