The National Cervical Screening Program has changed
GPs are reminded that on 1 December 2017 the National Cervical Screening Program was renewed. Please remember that Pap tests are no longer eligible for Medicare rebates - patients may be charged if this test is requested. The Pap test was replaced by the human papillomavirus (HPV) Cervical Screening Test. Routine cervical screening is now recommended for people aged 25 to 74 years.
To order pathology tests under the National Cervical Screening Program, including the Cervical Screening Test, follow the naming conventions detailed in the Pathology Test Guide for Cervical and Vaginal Testing.
Routine cervical screening is not recommended for people younger than 25 years of age and, importantly, these tests are not covered by Medicare. People under 25 years of age may be charged for pathology testing of routine cervical screening tests. The recommendation to commence routine cervical screening at 25 years of age was made by the Medical Services Advisory Committee following its evidence assessment.
Cervical cancer in people under 25 years of age is rare and, after more than 20 years of screening in Australia, the incidence of cervical cancer in this age group has not reduced. Commencing screening before age 25 can lead to unnecessary treatment for common cervical abnormalities that would usually resolve by themselves in young people. It usually takes 10 to 15 years for a persistent HPV infection to develop into cervical cancer.
For more information, visit the National Cervical Screening Program website.