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About the National Cervical Screening Program

The National Cervical Screening Program aims to prevent cervical cancer with regular testing. The Cervical Screening Test looks for human papillomavirus (HPV). The program targets women from 25 to 74 years of age.

Cervical screening saves lives

The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) aim is to reduce the impact of cervical cancer.

Cervical screening is a straightforward test performed by your doctor, nurse or health worker. It checks for the presence of HPV – a virus that can cause cervical cancer.

Cervical screening does not check for, or prevent, other cancers such as ovarian or endometrial cancer.

Why screening is important

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Most cervical cancers occur in women who have never screened or do not screen regularly. Having regular screening tests is the best way to protect yourself. The test detects the presence of HPV so that it can be monitored or investigated further if needed.

Since the program began in 1991, the number of women developing cervical cancer has decreased significantly.

Read more about the effectiveness of the screening program.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in a woman's cervix - the entrance to the womb from the vagina.

It happens when there are changes in some cells lining the cervix. Sometimes these abnormal cells grow and multiply, and can develop into cancer.

Find out more about cervical cancer.

The new Cervical Screening Test is more effective

The Cervical Screening Test replaced the Pap test in 2017. We expect it to protect up to 30% more women.

The Pap test used to look for cell changes in the cervix. The new test looks for HPV (a common infection spread during sexual activity) which can lead to those cell changes.

An HPV vaccine is available. It protects against up to 9 types of HPV, including those that cause around 70% of cervical cancers. Since the HPV vaccine does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cervical cancer, vaccinated women still need to have regular cervical screening.

Who should get a Cervical Screening Test

You are eligible for the test if you:

  • are aged between 25 and 74
  • have ever been sexually active
  • are a woman or person with a cervix.

Find out more about whether you should get a Cervical Screening Test.

How the program works

Cervical screening is done through your doctor, nurse or health worker. It’s likely to take just a few minutes. Talk to your health care professional about your screening needs – including whether you are eligible for self-collection.

Learn more about the screening process.

Manage your details

The National Cancer Screening Register enables a single electronic record for each person in Australia participating in cervical screening.

Manage your details and participation by calling the register, or visiting their website. You can:

National Cancer Screening Register contact

Contact the National Cancer Screening Register to update your contact details or if you have questions about either the National Bowel Cancer or National Cervical Screening Programs. You can call between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday, except national public holidays, from anywhere in Australia.

View contact

Policy framework

The program is jointly funded by the Australian Government and state and territory governments and services are delivered by health professionals.

We have a range of policies that help ensure the program is guided by best practice and a Quality Framework which ensures safety and ​​​​ ​​​high standards.


National Cervical Screening Program contact

Contact the National Cervical Screening Program for more information.

View contact

Other screening programs

We also have national screening programs for bowel cancer and breast cancer.

Talk to your health care professional if you have any questions about screening for cancer.

Last updated: 
19 January 2021

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