Health Tips

Goodbye Pap – Hello Cervical Screening

Say “Hello” to the new Cervical Screening Test  – less often, more accurate.

You may or may not have heard that the Pap test is now a thing of the past; it’s been replaced with the new Cervical Screening Test (CST for short). But what does this actually mean for us ladies on the ground?

The lowdown

  • The time between screening tests has changed from 2 years to FIVE years
  • The age that you need to start being screened has risen from 18yrs to 25yrs (or 2 years after your last Pap test if you have had one)
  • People between the ages of 70-74 will be invited to have a CST  

In the past, Pap tests looked for changes in the cells of the cervix; whereas the new CST detects the presence of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – the virus most commonly associated with cervical cancer. This means that it can predict problems earlier, and needs to be done less often.  


Pap Test                       (up to Nov 30th 2017) Cervical Screening Test (from Dec 1st 2017)
Start at 18 Start at 25
Every 2 years Every 5 years
Detected changes in the cells of the cervix Detects the presence of HPV

What causes cervical cancer?

The majority of cervical cancers are caused by the HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection found in both men and women. Most people will have the HPV at some point in their life, but it often clears itself with little or no consequence. 

How is the new CST done?

Pretty much the same way as the Pap test. A speculum is inserted into the vagina to open it and make the cervix visible, then a sample of cells are taken from the cervix using a small brush. These cells are placed in special liquid and send away for testing.

Do I still need the CST if I have had the HPV vaccination?

Unfortunately – yep. Even if you have been vaccinated it is important to keep up with your CST, because the vaccination covers most strains of the virus, but not ALL.

If you missed the HPV vaccination at school, talk to your GP about whether you should have it now.  

What now?

 If  you want to read more about the new CST,  head to the National Cervical Screening website – or talk to someone at  Penrith Women’s Health CentreBlue Mountains Women’s Health & Resource Centre, Family Planning NSW – Penrith Clinic or your GP.

Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District