About cervical screening in Victoria
The National Cervical Screening Program was introduced to Australia in 1991. Since the introduction of the program, Australia has seen a 50% reduction in both cervical cancer incidence and mortality.
Under the National Cervical Screening Program, women and people with a cervix, who have ever been sexually active, are invited to do a Cervical Screening Test every five years between the ages of 25 and 74. Depending on their clinical situation they may be required to screen more frequently than this.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers and can be successfully treated, if found early through regular cervical screening.
Despite this, recent figures estimate that only 69% of eligible women and people with a cervix in Victoria are participating regularly in the National Cervical Screening Program.
In Victoria, some population groups face additional barriers to screening or treatment services and are disproportionally affected by cervical cancer. These groups include Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander populations, those living regionally or remote, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTIQ+ populations and people living with a disability.
Universal access to self-collection
In July 2022, the National Cervical Screening Program was expanded to include self-collection as an option for everyone eligible for cervical screening.
Evidence has shown that self-collection is an acceptable option, including in under-screened or never screened populations, and can help to address many of the barriers experienced in accessing cervical screening by providing a more private, comfortable and less invasive option.
Self-collection provides an opportunity to increase cervical screening participation, particularly in under-screened populations however, community awareness of this option is still low, with a recent Cancer Council Victoria survey showing that less than 10% of eligible Victorians were aware of this option.1
How you can help
Help increase cervical screening participation rates with your patients by discussing the importance of the test, explaining the options for the test, and encouraging and supporting them to do the test if they are due or overdue.
It’s important that health professionals are checking if their eligible patients are up to date with their cervical screening and reminding them if and when they are due. You can check your patients’ screening status on your clinic records or through the National Cervical Screening Register.
It’s also important for clinics to be ready to offer the self-collection option for those who want it and promote this option to their patients. You can start by:
- Checking your patients' screening status and discussing cervical screening during an appointment.
- Learning about the barriers experienced by some under-screened groups.
- Ensuring your practice is ready to offer self-collection.
- Making sure your patients are aware of the self-collection option, and letting them know their choices for cervical screening.
- Adding your clinic to Cancer Council Victoria’s Cervical Screening Directory.
Get your clinic self-collect ready
Self-collection can help remove significant barriers to cervical screening and increase participation. A recent survey by Cancer Council Victoria found that 67% of eligible women and people with a cervix who had never screened or were overdue would choose to self-collect for their next test.
As more patients become aware of this option and ask for it, make sure your clinic is ready.
Below are the steps to get your clinic set up:
- Talk to your pathology laboratory and:
a. Confirm that they can process self-collected vaginal samples, or
b. Confirm that they are able to send on the samples to a laboratory that can process self-collected vaginal samples, and
c. Confirm any collection, handling and transport requirements.
- If your local pathology laboratory does not offer or support self-collection, you can contact an accredited laboratory directly to arrange for processing of the sample.
- Order the correct swabs and other consumables from your chosen pathology laboratory.
- Communicate these changes and processed to everyone in the practice team.
- Promote self-collection as an option to your patients. You can download and order resources to help with your discussions here.
- Direct patients to find out more about self-collection on the Cancer Council Victoria website at cancervic.org.au/selfcollection.
Find more education and support for self-collection
VCS pathology, a division of the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer (ACPCC), offers self-collection education and support for healthcare professionals, regardless of the pathology division they use.
Access webinars and accredited online courses at acpcc.org.au/practitioners/education
You can also organise a free, tailored self-collection education session for your practice. To find out more call VCS Pathology’s Clinical Advisory Service on (03) 9250 0309 or email Liaison.Team@acpcc.org.au
Add your clinic to Cancer Council Victoria’s Cervical Screening Directory
Cancer Council Victoria’s Cervical Screening Directory is a useful tool to help women and people with a cervix find a provider that suits their needs. Users can search for a provider by location, type of provider, gender, languages spoken, disability access and providers who are sexual assault or traditional cutting sensitive.
The directory now also has an option to indicate clinics that are self-collect ready.
If your clinic is ready to offer self-collection, make sure you add your clinic to the directory, and help more women and people with a cervix access screening that is right for them.
Help to protect more women and people with a cervix living in regional Victoria against cervical cancer by promoting cervical screening on your clinic channels.
Below you will find text and images for your clinic newsletters, website and social media pages that you can copy and paste and share with your audiences.
- Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable cancers, if found early.
- Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted infection.
- A Cervical Screening Test (which replaced the Pap Test) looks for human papillomavirus (HPV).
- Finding HPV early gives you the best protection against cervical cancer.
- If you are a woman or person with a cervix aged 25 to 74, you need to do a Cervical Screening Test every five years, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
- You can now choose to self-collect your test in a private space within a healthcare setting, using a small swab.
- Self-collection is quick, easy, private and just as accurate as a test done by a doctor or nurse using a speculum and small brush.
- Find out more about cervical screening and the self-collection option at cancervic.org.au/cervical.
Protect yourself against cervical cancer, book in for your cervical screening
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable cancers, if found early.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV), a very common sexually transmitted infection.
A Cervical Screening Test looks for the presence of HPV (human papillomavirus). Finding HPV early is your best protection.
If you are a women or person with a cervix aged 25 to 74, who has ever had sexual contact you need to do a Cervical Screening Test every five years, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
Now, you have the option to self-collect your test, using a small swab. It’s quick, easy, private and just as reliable as a test done by a healthcare provider.
If you’re due, book in and speak to one of our practitioners about your cervical screening options, including self-collection.
You can find out more about cervical screening at cancervic.org.au/cervical.
Download the images below and help to ensure all women and people with a cervix are aware of the importance of regular cervical screening and know their testing options.
Don’t forget to tag us at @cancervic so that we can see your posts!
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Did you know that almost all cervical cancers are caused by a virus called HPV?
HPV stands for human papillomavirus and is a very common sexually transmitted infection. The Cervical Screening Test looks for HPV - finding it early is your best protection against cervical cancer.
If you’re a woman or person with a cervix aged 25 to 74, doing a Cervical Screening Test every five years could save your life. Book in with one of our practitioners today!
Find out more at the @cancervic website: cancervic.org.au/cervical
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and curable cancers, if found early!
Almost all cervical cancers are caused by a common sexually transmitted virus called HPV (human papillomavirus). A Cervical Screening Test looks for HPV and can find people at risk.
Now, you have the option to self-collect your test using a small swab. Book in with one of our practitioners to discuss your options.
Find out more about cervical screening at the @cancervic website: cancervic.org.au/cervical
Are you due for your Cervical Screening Test?
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and curable cancers, if found early. If you’re a woman or person with a cervix aged 25 to 74, a Cervical Screening Test every five years is the best way you can protect yourself against cervical cancer.
Now, you have the option to self-collect your test using a small swab. It’s quick, easy, private and accurate. If you’re due or overdue, book in for your test today!
Find out more about cervical screening and self-collection at cancervic.org.au/cervical
1. Ross MS, Bastable A, Broun K, Eggins D, Temminghoff L, Lotfi-Jam K. Research Report: Self-Collected Cervical Screening Victorian Population Survey. [Confidential]. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria: Melbourne, Australia, August 2022.