Self-collection – A new line of defence against HPV

12 Nov 2021

The National Cervical Cancer Screening Program (NCSP) aims to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer and promotes the Cervical Cancer Screening Test.

As of July 1 2022, the NCSP will be offering self-collection to detect human papillomavirus (HPV) in people with a cervix.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced that the self-collection test will be accessible for all people eligible for a cervical screening test through healthcare providers and involves using a simple swab to take a screening sample of the cervix.

Self-collection provides an alternative option for cervical screening and has the potential to remove some cultural and personal barriers that may discourage people with a cervix from undergoing a Cervical Cancer Screening Test (CST). It is expected that self-collection will increase participation in cervical screening and support better outcomes in cervical cancer.

“Giving all women the option of a self-collected screening sample is an enormously positive step for our National Cervical Screening Program. Non-attendance for cervical screening, or under-screening in countries that have screening programs, are important risk factors for cervical cancer - in Australia, approximately 80% of cervical cancers occur in women who are lapsed or ‘never’ screeners. 

Self-collection is safe, accurate, and more comfortable, and is expected to increase participation in cervical screening especially in under-screened populations including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, and culturally and linguistically diverse women. Higher participation in screening will translate to fewer cancers and help achieve our ultimate goal of cervical cancer elimination, so this weeks announcement about self-collection is to be highly commended.”

Dr Paul Cohen, Gynaecological Oncologist & ANZGOG Director

Along with this new development in cervical screening, a recent study from the UK has found that the HPV vaccine substantially reduced cases of cervical cancer, and grade 3 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN3), in younger women, particularly those who were vaccinated at the age of 12-13.

Self-collection is a significant step forward in improving screening accessibility and cervical cancer prevention.

Want to know more?

To learn about HPV and the importance of the Cervical Cancer Screening Test, click here.

For more information on the national guidelines, click here.