Cervical cancer is largely preventable. 

Early detection and appropriate treatment can significantly improve cervical cancer survival.

Cervical cancer incidence and mortality rates have halved in Australia since the introduction in 1991 of the National Cervical Screening Program, which the Australian Government has renewed and updated. 

Changes to the screening program have made it more effective for all people:

  • The cervical screening test has replaced the Pap test.
  • The new cervical screening test now looks for HPV (which causes almost all cervical cancers), not just abnormal cells (like the Pap test did).
  • A better test means you will only need to screen every five years after your first HPV cervical screening test.
  • Self-collection is now an option for women and people with a cervix.

Who is cervical screening for?

You are eligible for cervical screening if you are 25 to 74 years old, have a cervix and have ever been sexually active. If you have not had a Cervical Screening Test since the program changed on 1 December 2017, you are overdue. 

Previously, the program offered a free Pap test every two years to women between the ages of 18 and 70. 

How to participate

Participating in cervical screening is easy to do. If you are due for screening you should have received an invitation or reminder. Call your GP to book an appointment and they’ll guide you through what you need to do. 


Self-collection is when a woman or person with a cervix takes their own sample for cervical screening under the supervision of a healthcare professional. It is taken with a cotton swab. You will be given instructions on how to collect the sample and offered a private place to collect the sample. The test is just as effective at detecting HPV and preventing cervical cancer as a sample taken from the cervix using a speculum.

From 1 July 2022, all Australian women and people with a cervix will be able to choose self-collection.

Talk to your GP about your eligibility.

For more information about self-collection, please visit this page on Cancer Council Victoria’s website

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Media enquiries

Contact Michelle Mollard, Director Communications and Government Relations: or 0432 394 395