Changes to Cervical Screening

Information for Doctors 

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Self-collected HPV tests

On advice from the National Cervical Screening Program and Department of Health, the self-collected HPV test should not be offered to eligible women until further notice. You will be notified when this becomes an available part of the renewed cervical screening program.

 It is important to know that all routine screening, symptomatic and follow-up testing in the new program will be available from December 1, 2017. 

  • On December 1, 2017, the cytology-based Pap test was completely replaced by the Cervical Screening Test (CST).
  • The CST is the only Medicare-funded routine cervical screening test, and will be available to women aged 25 to 74 years.
  • Specimens need to be collected by clinicians into ThinPrep® vials.
  • Request forms must specify the requested test PLUS the reason for test PLUS supporting clinical notes.

A risk-based approach

The CST uses an HPV DNA test to detect the presence of oncogenic HPV types known to be associated with a higher risk of developing significant cervical abnormalities. The HPV test is more sensitive than cytology, so it can be performed less frequently.

  • Asymptomatic women who test negative for oncogenic HPV are at low risk of developing cervical cancer and only need to be screened every 5 years.
  • Asymptomatic women who test positive for oncogenic HPV will have a liquid-based cytology (LBC) test performed on the same sample (reflex LBC) and will be assessed as either intermediate risk and advised to return for further testing in 12 months, or higher risk and referred for colposcopy.
  • Symptomatic women and those with a history of high-grade cervical pathology will have both an HPV and LBC test (Co-test) performed, regardless of their HPV result.
  • Women with special circumstances identified by the program may be offered more frequent screening or a single screening test prior to age 25.

Available resources

In order to help you with the changes implemented on December 1, 2017, we have created a range of resources which are available for download using the links below.

Clinician Guide

Collection Guide

Lubricant Guide

Flowcharts for 'Pathway for routine cervical screening' & 'Investigation of women with abnormal vaginal bleeding'

Flowcharts for 'Transition to the renewed National Cervical Screening Program' & 'Test of Cure (ToC)'

CST Resources Order Form


Additional resources

Hologic video


ThinPrep® Pap Test specimen collection video


Thin Prep 


ThinPrep® Pap Test information for health care professionals


Cancer Council Australia Cancer Guidelines Wiki: National Cervical Screening Program 
Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal vaginal bleeding.


Contact us

For further information on the new program, please contact our Cytology Department on (07) 3377 8592.