Media Release

CST is the new Pap

Changes to Cervical Screening Start  December 1st

From 1st December 2017, the Pap Smear is replaced by the new Cervical Screening Test (CST); this is an exciting new change that will benefit Tasmanian women.

Family Planning Tasmania’s Senior Medical Officer Sue Mallett says, “We all know how important screening for cervical cancer is.  The current system began in 1991 and has been very successful in reducing the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer.  This reduction has now plateaued.  The new CST will lead to a further reduction in deaths due to cervical cancer."

Dr Mallett explains, “The CST has been developed based upon new knowledge of how and why cervical cancers develop.  While the Pap Smear Test detects pre-cancerous cellular changes, The Cervical Screening Test detects the presence of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).  HPV causes 98% of all cervical cancers.  New HPV testing technology allows us to detect HPV more accurately.  HPV is a very common virus: 80% of people who have ever been sexually active will have been exposed to HPV.  HPV doesn’t cause any symptoms and for most people is cleared from the body.  There are a few strains of HPV that are associated with increased risk of developing cervical cancer if they persist in the body. The CST will pick up the presence of these strains allowing early detection and treatment.”

While the name of the test has changed, Dr Mallett points out that “Having a CST test feels no different than having a Pap Smear.  It is what happens to the sample after it has been taken that changes.  For routine testing a CST will be due at the same time as when the next Pap Smear is due.”

Some women may be happy to hear that instead of having a pap smear every two years from the age of 18, routine CST screening will be conducted from the age of 25 and testing will continue 5 yearly until the age of 75.  To ensure regular screening, women will receive a reminder notice when their next CST is due.

Dr Mallet warns,however, ”Family Planning Tasmania believe that while 5 years is appropriate for HPV screening, it is too long between visits to check on a woman’s sexual and reproductive health.  From 1st December, we will be introducing an additional Well Woman’s Check half way between routine CSTs to review all aspects of a woman’s sexual & reproductive health.”

Family Planning Tasmania also highlights the importance of the HPV vaccine and encourages all young people to ensure they have completed the HPV vaccination course.  The uptake of the HPV vaccine (Gardasil) by 12 and 13-year-old girls and boys in the school-based vaccination program is having a significant impact on reducing the rates of women developing cervical cancer.  Sadly, Tasmania has the lowest uptake of HPV vaccination in the country.   While the vaccine is helping reduce the number of cervical cancers, even if women have completed the course of Gardasil, they still need to have regular CSTs.

“Family Planning Tasmania’s message is clear: if you have a cervix, have ever had sex, and are 25 or older, you need to be having regular CSTs and a Well Woman’s Check between CSTs.”

Family Planning Tasmania (FPT) is a state-wide, not for profit organisation providing sexual and reproductive health clinic and education services to all Tasmanians.  FPT have three main sexual and reproductive health doctor/nurse clinics located in Glenorchy, Burnie and Launceston where we provide quality, non-judgmental and supportive sexual and
reproductive health services.


Media Enquiries:
Dr Sue Mallett – Senior Medical Officer
03 63434566

Cedric Manen – CEO
0414 698 906


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