It is recommended that regular cervical screening starts from the age of 25. If you are aged 25 and over and have a cervix, having a Cervical Screening Test every five years is your best protection against cervical cancer.
The Cervical Screening Test looks for HPV in your cervix. HPV stands for human papillomavirus. Certain types of HPV, if left untreated, can cause cell changes that may over time develop into cervical cancer. If changes are found early through screening, they can often be treated successfully.
Making a good program even better
The National Cervical Screening Program changed on 1 December 2017 to improve early detection and save more lives. The program now invites all eligible people aged 25 to 74 to have a Cervical Screening Test every five years, rather than a Pap test every two years.
The Cervical Screening Test looks for HPV. Research has shown that having a Cervical Screening Test every five years is more effective than, and just as safe as, a Pap test every two years. The renewed program is expected to reduce cervical cancer rates and deaths by at least another 20%.
Over half of eligible Victorians aged 25 to 34 are missing out on lifesaving cervical screening. This age group has one of the lowest screening rates in the country. In 2018, only 42.9% of eligible 25 to 29 year-olds and 48.0% of eligible 30 to 34 year-olds in Victoria took part in cervical screening.
Why do I need to wait until I’m 25?
A common concern among young Victorians is the new age range for cervical screening as previously cervical screening started at age 18.
Research shows us that having a five-yearly Cervical Screening Test from the age of 25 is safer and more effective than having a two-yearly Pap test from the age of 18.
Cervical cancer is extremely rare in women under 25 – there are around 10–15 cases of cervical cancer in people under 25 in Australia each year from a total number of around 900 cases.
Since the HPV Vaccination Program was introduced in 2007, the number of cervical abnormalities among people with a cervix aged younger than 25 has been dropping, resulting in fewer cases of cervical cancer in this age group.
The combined approach of the vaccine and a more effective cervical screening program is protecting our young generations from the risk of cervical cancer.
To find out more, visit What is HPV and how does it cause cervical cancer?