New cervical screening program delayed

Addressing the Preventing Cervical Cancer conference in Melbourne on the weekend, Professor Ian Hammond, chair of the Steering Committee for the Renewal Implementation Project, said the new program would now not be launched until 1 May 2017, with the current Pap smear program maintained until then.

The conference also heard an Australian study of self-sampling for HPV DNA had proved successful, suggesting the option – to be offered as part of the new screening program – may capture a proportion of the 30–40% of women who, for cultural or other reasons, avoid screening.

Professor Hammond said that after a scoping study by an external project management team, it became clear that the new program  could not be implemented by the end of 2016 as previously announced.

The renewal will involve a change from the two-yearly Pap test to a five-yearly primary HPV DNA test, as well as raising the age of initiation from 18 to 25 years with