PAP SMEAR PROGRAM MAKEOVER
The PAP Smear Program has been around since 1991 and has served us well for the past 26 years. As from 1st December 2017 our beloved 2 yearly routine PAP Smear will undergo a major makeover. This is a big milestone in cervical cancer screening in Australia. From 1st December 2017, Australia will change the routine PAP Smear test to a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) “ruling out” test based program which will detect cervical cancer promoting Human Papilloma Viruses.
This change has been found necessary and is in line with most recent scientific evidence in this area as advised by the Australian Medical Services Advisory Committee. The following recommendations will be observed in this new program:
-All sexually active women regardless of whether they have received HPV vaccination will be screened
-Screening will now start at 25years of age up to 75 years of age
-Screening interval will be 5 years instead of every 2 years
This new program is expected to result in a 30% reduction in the number of new cases of cervical cancer and deaths from the disease. The HPV test (Cervical Screening Test) looks for cancer promoting HPV in cervical specimens. If this test is negative for these viruses, research has shown that it is safe for women to get screened in 5 years’ time. If the test is found positive for these viruses, the lab will proceed with further testing of these specimens.
Women will continue receiving results from their care providers/GPs and results will be kept in the National Cancer Screening Registry. In cases where, HPV is detected and final result is categorized as high risk, a recommendation will be given by the lab. Most of women with this result will be advised to have colposcopy and possibly treatment and follow up.
Please check with your care providers for updates and watch this space carefully if you have existing abnormalities or your PAP test is due.
For more information:
National Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines 2016 Guidelines http://www.cancerscreening.gov.au/internet/screening/publishing.nsf/Content/about-the-new-test
http://wiki.cancer.org.au/australia/Guidelines: Cervical_ cancer/Screening