Cervical screening not funded by Medicare for women under 25
GPs are advised that cervical screening is not recommended in the renewed program for women aged under 25. It is important to note that Medicare does not fund routine HPV screening tests in women under 25 and therefore testing of these samples will come at a cost to the patient.
Screening starting from age 25 is designed to reduce the investigation and treatment of common cervical abnormalities that would usually resolve by themselves. It can take 10 to 15 years for cervical cancer to develop from persistent HPV. Women at any age who have signs or symptoms suggestive of cervical cancer (such as abnormal vaginal bleeding) should have a HPV and LBC co-test and be referred for the appropriate investigation to exclude genital tract malignancy.
The 2016 Guidelines from the Cancer Council Australia provide advice on how to manage women under 25 years who are currently under clinical management for a cervical abnormality. For women who experienced sexual activity at a young age (<14 years) and who had not received the HPV vaccine before sexual debut, or those that have been victims of sexual abuse, a single HPV test between 20 and 24 years of age could be considered on an individual basis.
To avoid out of pocket fees for your patients, please familiarise yourself with the Pathology Test Guide for Cervical and Vaginal Testing.