Screening for women under 25

Screening for women under 25

Be healthy, be informed.

Under 25 and unsure about the changes to the National Cervical Screening Program and what they mean for you? Here is what you need to know about the changes.

The Pap test has been replaced with a new Cervical Screening Test.

If you are under 25 years of age your first Cervical Screening Test is due either:

when you turn 25 years of age

  • e.g. if your last Pap test was at 22 years of age and your result was normal it is safe to wait until you turn 25 years for your Cervical Screening Test.

after you are 25 years of age, once it has been two years since your last Pap test

  •  e.g. if you had a Pap test at 24 years of age and your result was normal you can wait until you turn 26 years to have the Cervical Screening Test.

If you are displaying symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge or pain, please make an appointment with your healthcare provider to get appropriate clinical management.

The latest medical and scientific evidence shows that having a routine Cervical Screening Test every five years is just as safe, and more effective than having a Pap test every two years. The test is a simple procedure to check the health of your cervix. It feels the same as the Pap test, but tests for the cause of nearly all cervical cancers – human papillomavirus (known as HPV).

The new Cervical Screening Test is expected to protect up to 30% more women from cervical cancer as compared to the two-yearly Pap test program.

Why has the age changed from 18 to 25 for my first screening test?

  • Research shows that beginning cervical screening at age 25 years is safe.
  • Cervical cancer in people under the age of 25 is rare.
  • After more than 20 years of screening women under 25, the incidence of cervical cancer in this age group has not reduced.
  • Most women and men under 25 years have been vaccinated for HPV and people under 25 have robust immune systems that will usually clear the infection quickly and without treatment.
  • Commencing screening at age 25 will reduce the investigation and treatment of common cervical abnormalities that would usually resolve by themselves in women under the age of 25. This is because it can take 10 to 15 years for a persistent HPV infection to develop into cervical cancer.

At any age, if you are experiencing symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge and pain, please make an appointment with your healthcare provider immediately.
For more information please visit: www.cancerscreening.gov.au/cervical or discuss with your GP what these changes mean for you.