The role of health professionals in the National Cervical Screening Program

Health professionals and providers can help women understand the importance of regular cervical screening. Find out how you can help increase their understanding of the importance of regular cervical screening.

Your role

You play an important part in the program. By sharing your knowledge, you’ll increase understanding of, and participation in, the program.

You can:

  • tell patients about the benefits of cervical screening and their options for having a Cervical Screening Test
  • explain how the new test looks for human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • explain the difference between self-collected and clinician-collected samples
  • advise how and when the results are provided
  • remind them that after their first Cervical Screening Test, screening is every 5 years, if no HPV is found.
  • reassure them that it’s a straightforward process that is private and confidential.

Refer to our Healthcare provider toolkit. The information in the toolkit helps support you to learn about the National Cervical Screening Program, support patients before, during and after a screening appointment and tailor support to specific groups of people.

Clinical guidelines

Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for this program – the National Cervical Screening Program Guidelines – are available on the Cancer Council Australia website. They should be used to guide your decision making and help you follow best practice in managing screen-detected abnormalities, cervical screening and investigation of symptoms in your patients.

Read our fact sheet on recent changes to the clinical management of women at intermediate risk.

Clinical resources

Manage participants via the National Cancer Screening Register

Visit the National Cancer Screening Register’s website to:

  • check patient screening histories 
  • receive reminders for patients overdue for screening or follow-up
  • check and update patient details
  • manage patient program participation.
  • submit information about your patient, such as colposcopy information
  • nominate other people to assist your patient, including another doctor or a personal representative.

National Cancer Screening Register

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

Processing of self-collection samples

Providers of medical pathology services must clearly identify self-collected vaginal samples for HPV testing as part of the National Cervical Screening Program. This includes referring self-collected vaginal samples onto a laboratory who is accredited to process them, where necessary.

There is a range of collection devices and methods available for use under the National Cervical Screening Program for self-collected vaginal samples. As a result, different pathology laboratories may have varying collection and handling instructions and requirements.

Healthcare providers are encouraged to talk to their usual pathology provider in the first instance to:

  • confirm that they can process self-collected vaginal samples, or
  • confirm that they are able to refer self-collected vaginal samples to an accredited laboratory, if necessary, and
  • order the correct collection device and other consumables for offering self-collection, and
  • confirm any collection, handling and transport requirements.

Self-collection devices and methods currently available, and laboratories accredited to process them, include:

Copan 552C dry flocked swab, red topped

These swabs are delivered dry to the laboratory for processing.

If your local pathology provider is unable to process these types of self-collected samples or is unable to refer samples to an accredited laboratory for processing, healthcare providers can contact accredited laboratories directly to arrange for processing of the sample.

Pathology laboratories accredited to process these types of self-collected vaginal samples are:

 

Copan 552C.80 dry flocked swab, red-topped (Roche validated)

These swabs must be re-suspended into a collection vial (e.g. ThinPrep) at the time of collection. The collection vial is then delivered to the laboratory for processing.

This collection type is only available for self-collection in a clinic setting. Talk to your local laboratory about collection and handling requirements for processing these types of self-collected vaginal samples.

Laboratories accredited to process these types of self-collected vaginal samples are:

New South Wales:

Queensland:

Victoria:

Western Australia:

South Australia:

 

Copan 5E089C dry flocked swab, white topped (Becton Dickinson validated)

These swabs are delivered dry to the laboratory for processing. Talk to your local laboratory about collection and handling requirements for processing these types of self-collected vaginal samples.

Laboratories accredited to process these types of self-collected vaginal samples are:

Date last updated:

Help us improve health.gov.au

If you would like a response please use the enquiries form instead.