Regular Pap tests can prevent around 90% of cervical cancers.
All women aged 18 to 70 who've ever been sexually active should have a Pap test every 2 years, even if they're no longer having sex.
This is the best way to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.
The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing is currently reviewing National Cervical Screening Program guidelines and recommendations for women. As part of this process, the Medical Services Advisory Committee has recommended the Federal Government implement new cervical screening guidelines. Until the recommendations are adopted and implemented, Cancer Council Victoria encourages women to continue having Pap tests every two years, as per the current guidelines. Visit the National Cervical Screening Program website for more details.
The HPV vaccine will prevent up to 70% of cervical cancers as well as some other less common genital cancers in women, including vaginal and vulval. The vaccine also helps protect against penile cancer in men, and anal cancer and genital warts in both men and women.
The vaccine is most effective if given before the start of sexual activity. It's currently free for girls and boys in Year 7 as part of the school-based National Immunisation Program. In 2013 and 2014 only, the vaccine will also be free for boys in Year 9 as part of a national catch-up initiative.
Males and females outside of these ages may still benefit from the vaccine and should speak to their doctors to see if it's right for them. As the vaccine won't prevent all cervical cancers, it's important to remember that, vaccinated or not, a Pap test every 2 years is still vitally important for all women, aged 18 to 70, who've ever been sexually active.
Visit our HPV vaccine website for more information.