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Cervical Screening: Preparing for change

Australia’s National Cervical Screening Program has played a vital role in the reduction in morbidity and mortality of cervical cancer for more than 20 years.

‘The organised program that started in 1991 has decreased the rate of mortality from cervical cancer,’ Associate Professor Amanda McBride, GP and Head of General Practice at the University of Notre Dame Australia, told Good Practice.

‘We know from the statistics that, unfortunately, women who don’t have regular screening – largely from low socioeconomic and Indigenous groups, and certain cultural groups – have higher rates of cervical cancer.’

The program promotes two-yearly Pap smears to start in women aged 18–20, ceasing at the age of 69 for women who have had two normal Pap smears within the previous five years. Since the introduction of the screening program, deaths from cervical cancer in Australian women aged 20–69 have decreased by more than half.