Landmark changes to cervical cancer screening

Announced during Cervical Cancer Awareness Week (8-14 November), the government declared that all people eligible for a cervical screening test will be able to collect their own sample from 1 July 2022, offering women more control and choice.

Currently, self-collection is only available to women aged 30 years or over, who have never screened, or are two or more years overdue. From 1 July, Australia will be one of the first countries in the world to offer the ‘game-changing’ self-collect option through the National Cervical Screening Program.

Self-collection allows women to use a simple swab, similar to a Covid swab, to take a screening sample themselves instead of having a traditional cervical screening test completed by a clinician.

“By giving women the choice of how their screening is done, we are making the process easier, more comfortable and less invasive,” says Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Self-collection is expected to improve overall screening participation rates, especially in under-screened populations including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women as well as culturally and linguistically diverse women.

The self-collect tests will be accessed through health care providers, including GPs, ensuring these experts continue to play a critical role in supporting patients with cervical screening.

The Government is expanding the eligibility for cervical screening self-collection through a $3.8 million investment in the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS).

Self-collected samples are as safe, effective and as accurate as clinician-collected tests.

Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, from 8 to 14 November, continues the theme ‘time to catch up’; a reminder to Australian women to do the screening test they may have been putting off.

The National Cervical Screening Program promotes routine screening with cervical screening tests covered by Medicare every five years for women and people with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 74 years.

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