Prevent cervical cancer

Cervical screening is the ultimate act of self-care. Look after your health, find out more.

Regular Cervical Screening Tests can prevent around 90% of cervical cancers.

Cervical Screening Tests

All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 74 who've ever had a sexual partner should have a Cervical Screening Test every five years, even if they're no longer sexually active.

The Cervical Screening Test can save your life and only takes a few minutes. Cervical screening is the best way to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

Everyone who is eligible for a Cervical Screening Test now has the option for a self-collection test. Learn more about self-collection.

If you are unsure whether you are due for a Cervical Screening Test, you can contact the National Cancer Screening Register or check with your GP.

What you’ll find on this page:

What is the Cervical Screening Test?

The Cervical Screening Test is the best way to reduce your risk of cervical cancer.

The Cervical Screening Test looks for the presence of high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) and can identify people who are at risk of developing cervical cancer.

HPV is a key risk factor in the development of cervical cancer. Even if you are vaccinated against HPV you need to participate in regular cervical screening.

You have two options for your Cervical Screening Test. You can pick what’s right for you. All methods are just as safe and effective at detecting HPV.

  • Option 1. You can use a self-collection swab to collect a sample of cells from your vagina. Your doctor or nurse will give you a private space for you to collect your own test sample. They can explain how to do the test and help you if you need it.
  • Option 2. Your doctor or specially trained nurse can do a Cervical Screening Test for you using a speculum and a small brush to take a sample of cells from your cervix.

When should you screen?

All women and people with a cervix aged between 25 and 74 years should have a Cervical Screening Test every five years.

The National Cervical Screening Program changed in December 2017 from a two-yearly Pap test to a five yearly Cervical Screening Test. This change has improved early detection and saved more lives. If you haven’t screened since the new Cervical Screening Test was introduced in December 2017, you are now overdue. Talk to your doctor or nurse as soon as possible about being screened.

Women and people with a cervix of any age who have symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge or pain should see their health care professional immediately, regardless of when they were last screened.

What is self-collection?

Self-collection is one of two options you can choose for your Cervical Screening Test.

Self-collection requires gently putting a cotton swab in your vagina and rotating the swab 2-3 times for about 10 seconds. The swab will collect a sample of cells from the vagina, which will be tested to see if HPV is present.

A self-collected test is done privately at the doctor’s or other health setting, usually behind a screen or in the bathroom.

Self-collection needs to be done under the guidance of a doctor or nurse, usually in a health care setting. In some cases, your doctor or nurse may be able to support you doing the test at home under the guidance of telehealth.

If you are unsure about how to do the self-collection test don’t worry - your doctor or nurse will explain how to do the test and help you if you need it. They can also give you additional tests if you need to do it again.

Self-collection is just as reliable and effective at detecting HPV as a Cervical Screening Test taken by your doctor or specially-trained nurse.

If your self-collected test is positive for HPV, your doctor or nurse will explain your results and support you through the next steps. Further testing is usually required.

Find out more about self-collection

Where to go for a Cervical Screening Test

There are many Cervical Screening Test providers in Victoria.

Check out the  Cervical Screening directory to find a provider to suit your needs. You can request information about providers who are female, sensitive to the needs of those who have experienced sexual assault, specialised with working with either Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, culturally diverse or LGBTIQ+ communities or people living with a disability.

You can also speak to your GP or call our support nurses who can talk you through it on 13 11 20.

Find a cervical screening provider near you

More information