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Women’s Health Week 2017

Clinical Labs well prepared for Renewed Cervical Screening Program


From 1 December 2017, the traditional ‘pap’ smear will be replaced by a HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) DNA test which can detect a larger range of the existing 40 plus HPV types including the two high risk types, 16 and 18, and 12 intermediate risk types.

Clinicians need to be aware of the changes and what they and their patients can expect from the upcoming Renewed Cervical Screening Program.

Australia has among the lowest rate of cervical cancer incidence and mortality in the world thanks largely to the National Cervical Screening Program which was introduced in 1991.  While the program has had excellent results, in recent years results have plateaued and there is an increased need for earlier detection.

Australian Clinical Labs pathologist Dr Catherine Uzzell has been educating clinicians about the renewed Cervical Screening Program.

“With the introduction of the Renewed Cervical Screening Program, women will see the benefits of an evidence-based program which incorporates the most up- to-date technology and knowledge for the diagnosis of cervical abnormalities, and the prevention of cervical carcinoma. The program incorporates comprehensive screening and management protocols, to ensure that women who participate in cervical screening can be confident of not only their results, but also the management and surveillance of any detected cervical abnormalities,” Dr Uzzell said.


Key recommendations of the renewed program include:

  • Cervical screening every five years
  • Primary HPV molecular test with partial HPV genotyping
  • Reflex LBC (liquid based cytology) triage
  • HPV vaccinated and unvaccinated women 25 to 69 years with an exit HPV test between 69 and 74 years
  • The National Registry to coordinate invitations and reminders to women.


Australian Clinical Labs is well placed to begin the program. Our laboratories have been performing HPV testing for nine years now, with significant investments made in state of the art molecular PCR DNA testing platforms.

In addition, for the past 20 years Australian Clinical Labs has offered liquid based cytology. This method offers improved preservation of cells with a monolayer preparation and avoids problems of poor fixation and smear related issues of the conventional pap preparation. This is also efficient as both the molecular and cytology are performed on the same vial which eliminates the need to collect two separate specimens.

“Our referrers can rest assured that Australian Clinical Labs is well prepared for the commencement of the Renewed Cervical Screening Program. We have the technologies and expertise in place and we’ll be ready come December first.”


When the Renewed Cervical Screening Program is introduced, Clinicians can expect to see

1. Combined reporting of the HPV result

  • If negative only a HPV result will be seen
  • if positive, will report HPV high risk 16, 18 (45) or ‘other’ intermediate risk
  • LBC (microscopy) result - only if HPV positive


2. Risk stratification and new recommendations based on these results

  • Risk stratification or ‘cervical screening result’
  • Low risk of significant cervical abnormality
  • Intermediate risk of significant cervical abnormality

The Renewed Cervical Screening Program is expected to have a significant impact. In unvaccinated women, a 31-36% reduction in cervical cancer incidence and mortality is expected while a 24-29% reduction is expected in vaccinated women.

Refer to Pap Screening Changes for more information or contact Australian Clinical Labs on 1300 134 111

View Cervical Cancer Screening Changes Brochure