Our History

From small beginnings to worldwide leaders

The ACPCC was originally founded as the Victorian Cytology Service (VCS) in December 1964 as a joint venture initiative between the Victorian State Government, the Cancer Council and Prince Henry’s Hospital. We were established to provide cervical cancer screening services to Victorian women following the introduction of the Pap smear. In 1965, we began operating from Prince Henry’s Hospital where we stayed until 1991.

In 1991, VCS was incorporated and moved from the hospital to Faraday Street in Carlton, Victoria. This was also the year that the National Cervical Screening Program was established as a joint initiative of Australian State and Territory Governments.

Over our 57-year history, ACPCC continued to expand its services. In 2012, we established VCS Pathology. This was followed by Digital Health in 2017 and Population Health in 2018. 

 

On 8 November, 2021 we changed our name from VCS Foundation Ltd to the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer. This name change ensures that we are recognised as Australia’s leading organisation in cervical cancer screening and prevention — an important step in our goal to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in our region. On the same day, we also launched the Australian HPV Reference Laboratory.

Some of our pioneering achievements include:

  • In 1989, we established the first Pap Test Registry in Australia to support an organised approach to cervical cancer screening.
  • In 2008, we established and operated the world’s first HPV vaccination program register on behalf of the Australian Department of Health.
  • We were a driving force in providing evidence to support the Australian Government’s decision to transition from 2 yearly Pap tests to 5 yearly HPV tests in the renewed National Cervical Screening Program, which commenced in December 2017.
  • In 2018, we became the first laboratory in Australia to achieve accreditation for processing HPV self-collection tests after undertaking a rigorous in-house validation process. Self-collection is the most important tool in Australia’s belt to achieve elimination of cervical cancer by 2035.
  • In 2021, we launched the Australian HPV Reference Laboratory to enhance and monitor the performance of HPV tests, technology and laboratory procedures to help reduce HPV-related disease.

2018

Restructure of organisation to VCS Foundation VCS Population Health introduced

2017

VCS Digital Health introduced

VCS ICT Platform canSCREEN upgraded for commercial market

Restructure of VCS workforce to support the renewed NCSP

12722025 smears reported from 1965 to the commencement of the renewed NCSP

Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program launched in December 2017

2016

VCS Shortlisted in tender for the operation of the National Cancer Screening Register but ultimately unsuccessful

ICT platform canSCREEN developed to support the future growth of the Victorian Cervical Cancer Screening Register and National Human Papillomavirus Register

Compass Main Trial recruitment target of 36,300 unvaccinated women born on, or before June 30th 1980 reached in May.

Total workforce prior to Renewal = 181

2015

12,006,312 Pap smears reported over the life of the service

VCS Celebrates 50 years of service

Compass Main Trial tor recruit 121,000 women commences

VCS hosts PCC2015, the third such conference.2015

2014

VCS appointed operators of the South Australian Screening Register added the service

2013

Boys added to the HPV vaccination program. VCS takes on some functions of the Bowel Screen Program in Victoria. Planning commences for a renewed cervical screening program.

Compass Pilot Study commences

National Bowel Screen Cancer Registry Follow Program (PFUF) added to the service

2012

VCS Pathology Established

VCS rebranding and logo refresh

2011

VCS hosts PCC2011, the second such conference.

VCS releases first data showing a decrease in high grade abnormalities after introduction of the HPV vaccination program.

2010

20th anniversary of VCCR.2010

2009

Preventing Cervical Cancer Conference (PCC) bringing togeher Australian and International experts

Renewal of National Cervical Screening Program announced.

2008

VCCR co-locates with the National HPV Vaccination Program Register.

VCS contracted to establish and operate the National Human Papillomavirus Program Register

2007

National HPV Vaccination Program implemented.

2006

NHMRC Guidelines for the Management of Asymptomatic Women with Screen Detected Abnormalities.

2005

Implementation of MediPath LIS for histopathology.2005

2004

Planning started for determining a suitable site for VCS once RWH moves.

2003

CIS now had a decision support tool offering the reporting scientist or pathologist the appropriate clinical recommendation.

2002

Due to another Victorian laboratory losing its NATA accreditation, test volumes increased markedly for a period.

2001

CIS project completed July 2000. Victorian BreastScreen Registry relocated to new premises on 26 July 2000.

2000

On 17 August 1999, the core functions of the new CIS commenced.

Dr Marion Saville appointed Director2000

1999

Mandatory for pathology laboratories to meet performance targets.

1998

VCS was providing a public cytology service for the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

2018

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1997

BreastScreen handled approximately 220,000 phone calls and made 158,000 appointments for women.

1996

Performance measures for Australian laboratories reporting cervical cytology introduced.

1995

VCCR and VBR required increased space.1995

1994

First NHMRC Guidelines Screening to Prevent Cervical Cancer: Guidelines for the Management of Women with Screen Detected Abnormalities.

1993

VCS commenced a contract to provide the Victorian BreastScreen Registry (VBR).

1992

Cancer Council Victoria and Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry introduced the "Organised Approach to Preventing Cancer of the Cervix"

1991

On 3 September 1991, VCS was incorporated.

National Cervical Screening Program established as joint initiative of Australian State and Territory Governments.

VCS moved from Prince Henry's to 265 Faraday Street Carlton

1990

The Commonwealth agreed to pay $1.5 million, matched by the State Government, to improve the Service in a number of areas.1990

1989

Bill passed. Amendment to Cancer Act 1958 Cancer (Central Registers) Act 1989. VCCR established under direction of Heather Mitchell - the first state-based Pap test Registry.

1988

Review of cervical screening in Australia commissioned. Working Party on Central Registry at ACCV and proposal to establish Registry. Extensive community consultation.

Dr Gabriel Medley Appointed Director

1987

Report of Anti Cancer Council of Victoria Working Party on Mass Screening for cervical cancer recommending formal statewide database.

1986

A survey by the Anti-Cancer Council showed that 20% of Victorian women had never had a cervical smear.

1985

May 1985 was a record month for smears, 29,442 were received.1985

1984

There were the first reports of occupationally related illnesses at the Service.

1983

Sir Lance Townsend, founding chairman died.

1982

On the 28th May 1982, the Minister for Health, The Honourable T. W. Roper visited the Service and personally supervised the registration of the three millionth smear.

1981

Despite a recommended two-yearly screening interval, Victorian women appeared to have set their own “mean interval” of 3.5 years.

1980

Univac V77/600 mini-computer replaced virtually all existing clerical activities1980

1979

In December 1979, VC(G)S celebrated 15 years.

Medical staffing continued to be a cause of concern since at no time since the inception of the Service had a stable medical staff structure been achieved.

1978

There was a reorganisation of medical staff with four Pathologists employed within the Department of Anatomical Pathology.

1977

RMIT established a degree course in applied science, which included Anatomical Pathology 1.

1976

The introduction of Medicare bulk billing allowed other laboratories to provide an apparently “free” service.

1975

The screened population coverage reached over 90% in some age groups.1975

1974

Staff efficiency was calculated to have doubled since the inception of the Service.

1973

The Clinical Cytology II subject commenced at RMIT.

1972

The average smear cost for the year was $1.16.

1971

137,717 smears were received, with 487 “positive” cases.

1970

Punch cards were used for ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ records, which were transferred onto magnetic tape.1970

1969

The Service moved into new premises on the third floor of the new clinical school at Prince Henry’s Hospital.

1968

Staff were divided into Cytotechnologists, Senior Cytotechnicians and Cytotechnicians (screeners).

1967

Screeners were mostly girls straight from matriculation.

1966

Over the first 18 months, 70,878 smears were examined, which was approximately 7% of the adult female population in Victoria.

Total workforce at the commencement of the service = 19.5

1965

Victorian Clinical Gynaecology Service established operating from Prince Henry's Hospital1965

1964

Victorian Cytology (Gynaecological) Service was formed on 9th December 1964.
Dr Michael Drake appointed Director

VISION

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