I'm between 25 and 74
Why should I do the test?
The Cervical Screening Test (CST) is a simple test that checks for the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes over 90% of cervical cancers. It takes about 5 minutes and is performed by your doctor or healthcare provider.
Cervical cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix, that is caused by long-term infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV).
A positive human papillomavirus (HPV) test shows that you may be at risk of developing cervical cancer. The test may be positive many years before cells become cancerous. Through regular screening abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix can be detected early and treated to prevent cervical cancer from developing.
Who should have a CST?
If you are aged 25 to 74 years, have a cervix and have ever been sexually active, you should have a CST. This includes people who identify as lesbian or transgender as well as those who have had the HPV vaccination.
Women who have had a hysterectomy should discuss their screening needs with their doctor or healthcare provider.
When do I need my next CST?
You should have your first CST when you turn 25. For women aged over 25 your next CST is due two years after your last Pap test. (If your last Pap test was normal).
The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) will send you an invitation to have your CST when you are due.
If it has been more than two years since your last Pap test, talk to your doctor. You should organise your CST as soon as possible.
What if I'm already vaccinated?
If you have had the HPV vaccine it is still important to have regular CSTs.
The name of the HPV vaccine is Gardasil®9. The HPV vaccine only protects against some types of HPV. There are several other types of HPV not covered by the vaccine that can cause cervical cancer.
There is a chance that sexual activity before you had the vaccine may have exposed you to HPV. The HPV vaccine does not treat HPV infections you already have.
What if I have never screened?
Women aged between 25 and 74 years who have ever been sexually active should have a CST every five years. This includes women who have had the HPV vaccine.
Regular screening is the best way to protect you against cervical cancer. It is important to have regular CSTs.
Cervical cancer is diagnosed in about 950 women in Australia each year. About 70% of these cases occur in women who have never screened or were not up-to-date with their screening.
There is an alternative sample collection method for women who are 30 years or over and either haven't screened or are two or more years overdue for their cervical screening. More information is available at Self-collection.
What if I've had a hysterectomy?
Women without a cervix (who have had a total hysterectomy) may still need follow-up tests. You should continue having regular CSTs after hysterectomy if:
- your hysterectomy was as part of treatment for high-grade cervical abnormalities;
- you are still under surveillance for a previous high-grade cervical abnormality; and
- you had cervical abnormalities detected from your hysterectomy pathology.
You should still have regular CSTs if you have a cervix. If you had a sub-total (or partial) hysterectomy, you should still have regular CSTs.
If you have had a hysterectomy - ask your doctor whether you still need to have cervical screening.