Cervical screening - then and now

Australian Doctor takes a look at cervical cancer screening, from the Pap test’s development in the 1920s to recent moves towards HPV-based testing

Since the Federal Government is presently in the final stages of considering an expert review on cervical cancer screening, it is a good time to reflect on the gains of the past and to examine the potential advantages of moving to HPV detection as the primary screening test for cervical pre-cancerous change.


Cervical cancer is still the fourth most common female cancer worldwide.

There were an estimated 266,000 deaths from cervical cancer in 2012, with 87% of these occurring in less-developed regions.1

Though the past 50 years have seen an enormous drop in mortality from