The cervical screening test (CST) is a new, more accurate way of protecting women against cervical cancer. It was introduced in Australia in December 2017, and is expected to protect almost one third more women from cervical cancer than the old Pap test.
The Pap test used to look for changes in the cells of the cervix, the entrance to the uterus (womb) from the vagina. Now the cervical screening test looks for evidence of the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cell changes in the cervix, if left untreated.
The cervical screening test looks and feels the same as the Pap test. But it is only done every 5 years instead of every 2 years, if your results are normal. Research has shown that having a Cervical Screening Test every five years is more effective than, and just as safe as, a Pap test every two years. The renewed program is expected to reduce cervical cancer rates and deaths by at least another 20%.
Cervical cancer is extremely rare in women under 25 – there are around 10–15 cases of cervical cancer in people under 25 in Australia each year from a total number of around 900 cases.
Since the HPV Vaccination Program was introduced in 2007, the number of cervical abnormalities among people with a cervix aged younger than 25 has been dropping, resulting in fewer cases of cervical cancer in this age group. The combined approach of the vaccine and a more effective cervical screening program is protecting our young generations from the risk of cervical cancer.