Cervical Screening Tests
Regular cervical screening is your best protection against cervical cancer.
On 1 December 2017 the cervical screening test replaced the 2 yearly Pap smear. The new cervical screening test is a simple procedure to check the health of your cervix.
If you're aged between 25-74 you should have your first cervical screening test 2 years after your last Pap smear.
What is a cervical screening test
The test is a simple procedure to check the health of your cervix. Your cervix is the opening of the uterus (neck of the womb), and is at the top of your vagina.
If you have ever had a Pap smear before, the way the cervical screening test is done will look and feel the same. The procedure might be a bit uncomfortable, but it shouldn't hurt. If you experience pain, tell your healthcare provider straight away.
Remember, you can always ask for a female clinician.
How is the cervical screening test more accurate?
While the Pap smear test used to look for cell changes in the cervix, the new cervical screening test detects human papillomavirus (HPV) which can lead to cell changes in the cervix.
HPV is a common virus that can cause changes to cells in your cervix, which in rare cases can develop into cervical cancer. By detecting a HPV infection early, your healthcare provider can monitor the infection and intervene if there are any changes to the cells in your cervix.
Once you have had your first cervical screening test, you will only need to have one every 5 years instead of 2 if your results are normal.
When to have a cervical screening test
The screening age has changed from 18 to 25 as research has shown that beginning cervical screening at age 25 years is safe. If you are turning 25 years old, or have never had a Pap smear before, you should make an appointment with your healthcare provider to have a cervical screening test.
If you are 25 to 74 years old, have a cervix and have ever been sexually active, you should have your first cervical screening test 2 years after your last Pap smear. This includes people vaccinated and unvaccinated for HPV as well as people who identify as lesbian or transgender.
If you have had a hysterectomy, you may still need to have regular cervical screening tests.
If you have symptoms at any age, such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, pain or discharge, you should discuss these with your healthcare provider immediately.
Find a cervical screening test provider
Cervical screening tests and associated follow-ups are provided in a number of settings:
- Mobile Women’s Health Service in rural and remote areas
- sexual health services
- gynaecology outpatients clinics
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services
- general practice
- True relationships and reproductive health (formerly Family Planning Queensland) clinics.
Generally your doctor will perform your cervical screening test. Make an appointment directly with your doctor or practice nurse, and make sure you mention it is for a cervical screening test so they can book the appropriate amount of time.
You can call Women’s Health Queensland Wide on (07) 3216 0376 (local call within Brisbane metro) or 1800 017 676 (outside Brisbane) to find a local cervical screening test provider or to answer any questions you may have.
True (previously Family Planning Queensland) have clinics that provide cervical screening test services—find your nearest clinic or call (07) 3250 0240.
Women in rural and remote areas of Queensland can make an appointment with a Mobile Women’s Health Service. In some areas an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women’s health worker works with the nurse.