BYE BYE, PAP SMEAR – HELLO CERVICAL SCREENING TEST
Australian women will say farewell to the pap smear, with the introduction of a new cervical screening test from tomorrow.
Australia’s national cervical cancer screening strategy was first funded by the Hawke Labor Government in 1991, and Labor is incredibly proud of its success. The biannual pap-smear for women aged 18-65 is an incredible legacy of then Health Minister Brian Howe – with the incidence and mortality from cervical cancer in Australia falling from around 50% in the first decade.
From tomorrow, the two yearly pap test for people aged 18 to 69 will be replaced by a five yearly human papillomavirus (HPV) test for people aged 25 to 74. Labor welcomes this next step in fighting cervical cancer in Australia.
The new cervical screening test has the potential to pick up cervical cancer earlier than the current pap smear by detecting the human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer, rather than the current pap smear test which detects cell changes.
Labor has been extremely disappointed with the Turnbull Government’s stuff up of this rollout – women should have had access to this life saving test six months ago, but the register which supports the rollout has been delayed time and time again and is now not expected to be fully operational until March 2018.
The National Register will not be able to send cervical screening histories to pathology laboratories until March 2018 at the earliest, with laboratory staff concerned about the “serious implications for patient safety.” [PULSE IT, 25 OCTOBER 2017]
The Government must address these concerns.
We are also disappointed at the lack of proper communication about the transition, which we know has created unnecessary confusion about the new test.
Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable cancers – we look forward to seeing the impact of this important test.
(PS. – The technique of the test stays the same.)