Australian women are being encouraged to make sure they are up to date with their cervical screening and Gardasil vaccinations.

Marking the beginning of National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week Minister for Health, Sussan Ley reiterated the importance of regular screening in the fight against cervical cancer.

“In 2016 alone, an estimated 903 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer,” Minister Ley said.

“Our cancer survival outcomes are among the best in the world but we also know that 80 per cent of all women that are diagnosed with new cancers of the cervix in Australia, have either never been screened or are lapsed screeners.

“That’s why I am encouraging all Australian women during this important awareness week to make sure they are up to date with their cervical screening.”

From May 2017, the Australian Government will be updating and making changes to the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) which has been around for 25 years.

The Pap test will be replaced with a cervical screening test for the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) for women aged between 25 and 74 years of age, with routine screening to occur every five years instead of every two years.

Currently, under the NCSP, testing is recommended for women between the ages of 18-69. 

The updated Cervical Screening Program will adopt a risk-based approach to cervical screening, with women to receive a result based on their risk of developing significant cervical abnormalities in the following five years.

“The updates to our screening program means that we are taking advantage of the latest evidence and medical discoveries in our fight against cervical cancer. Australia will be world-leading in providing this new test to Australian women for better health outcomes,” Minister Ley said.

As part of the changes a new National Cancer Screening Register will be introduced to send women invitations and reminders about the program. Legislation for this new cancer screening register was introduced by the Turnbull Government and passed by the Parliament last month.

To coincide with National Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation has developed and launched a Cervical Health App and a Comfort Checklist to promote awareness about the disease.

For more information about the National Cervical Screening Program, or the changes to the program, please visit the Department of Health’s website.