Information for healthcare professionals
Guidelines for cervical screening
The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) has developed Guidelines for the management of screen-detected abnormalities, screening in specific populations and investigation of abnormal bleeding. These clinical guidelines bring together the best available evidence to prevent, diagnose and manage cervical cancer.
The NCSP clinical guidelines have been updated to support the expansion of self-collection as of 1 July 2022.
There is now strong evidence to support self-collection. Research shows self-collected vaginal samples (taken from the vagina, not the cervix) and clinician-collected samples have equivalent sensitivity when using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based HPV test for asymptomatic cervical screening participants. Unsatisfactory HPV samples from self-collection are estimated to be under 2.6 per cent which is within the acceptable range.
Limitations of self-collection
Self-collection is only recommended for testing for HPV. Self-collection is not appropriate for people who require a co-test.
Patients with symptoms that could indicate cervical abnormalities or cancer to continue to require diagnostic testing and should be managed in accordance with the National Cervical Screening Program guidelines.
Supporting patients to self-collect
General practitioners (GPs) and other healthcare providers continue to play a pivotal role in the monitoring and early detection of cancers and consumers’ overall sexual health and safety.
Self-collection kits can only be accessed from a health professional.
A consultation with those eligible for cervical screening presents an ideal opportunity to outline all the screening options available:
- self-collected vaginal sample
- clinician-collected cervical sample
- clinician-assisted self-collection.
Where self-collection is chosen, health professionals can use the time saved to discuss sexual health, post self-collection follow up and other health matters.
Information for nurses and health practitioners
Non-medical cervical screening providers refers to nurses and health practitioners trained in cervical screening.
Training and competency
Non-medical cervical screening providers need to complete a recognised cervical screening training course to provide cervical screening services, and to monitor and maintain their clinical competency standards inline with the National competencies for cervical screening providers.
This process is the responsibility of the healthcare worker and their employer/health service manager to monitor. This Cervical screening quality assurance tool (PDF 524 kB) was designed to provide an optimal quality assurance tool for non-medical cervical screening providers.
Accessing the National Cervical Screening Register
Non-medical cervical screening providers can access cervical screening histories through the National Cancer Screening Register. Health professionals can access and submit cervical and bowel screening data in the National Cancer Screening register via the healthcare provider portal. Learn more about the healthcare provider portal.
To obtain access to the National Cancer Screening Register, visit their website or contact 1800 627 701 and ask to speak to a clinical liaison officer.
Clinical guidance and support
Non-medical cervical screening providers can access ongoing clinical guidance and support on cervical screening practices from True Relationships and Reproductive Health.
For clinical guidance, advice and support, contact True on 07 3250 0240, your call will be forwarded to your closest True Clinic.
A range of information and resources are available for health professionals, including:
- Cervical screening information for health professionals from the National Cervical Screening Program
- National Cervical Screening Program Guidelines
To support promotion self-collection, Queensland Health has developed a toolkit for providers which includes a factsheet, social media graphics and a web banner.
National Cancer Screening Register
Complete cervical screening histories are available from the National Cancer Screening Register.
For further information and access, contact the register online or by calling 1800 627 701 on business days between 8am and 6pm.
- Arbyn, M., et al., Detecting cervical precancer and reaching underscreened women by using HPV testing on self samples: updated meta-analyses. BMJ, 2018. 363: p. k4823
- University of Melbourne and Victorian Cytology Service Ltd 2017 Self-collection Pilot Project - improving access to cervical screening for under-screened women,
- Saville M, Hawkes D, Mclachlan E, Anderson S, Arabena K. Self-collection for under-screened women in a National Cervical Screening Program: pilot study. Current Oncology 2018 25/2/2018.
- VCCR. Statistical Report: Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry; 2015.