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Cervical screening

On 1 December 2017, the renewed National Cervical Screening Program replaced the pap test with a new protocol incorporating HPV testing and Liquid Based Cytology (LBC). Primary screening for HPV tests for the presence of oncogenic HPV. If HPV is detected, reflex LBC will be performed to determine if any cervical cell abnormalities are present. Results that were sent to the state-based Queensland Health Pap Smear Register are now sent to the National Cancer Screening Register.

Collecting specimens

Traditional pap smears are no longer covered by Medicare, instead a ThinPrep sample is required.

Cervical screening kits may contain both glass slides and ThinPrep collection devices such as sampler broom or spatula and endocervical brush. Simply discard the glass slides.

ThinPrep sampling protocols:

Self-collect samples

Patient self-collect samples can now be accepted. Please be advised that strict eligibility and specimen handling requirements must be adhered to.


Eligible patients Non-eligible patients
  • Is 30 years or over
  • Has declined a clinician-collected cervical sample AND overdue for cervical screening by two years or longer (i.e. 4 years or more since their last Pap test, or 7 years or more since their last cervical screening test
  • Has never been screened
  • Is under 30 years of age
  • Is pregnant, or thinks they might be pregnant
  • Has been exposed to diethyl-stilbestrol (DES) in utero
  • Is symptomatic e.g. is experiencing unusual bleeding, pain or discharge
  • Has had a total hysterectomy with past history of high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesion (HSIL)

Specimen handling

  • Please ensure you use a Copan 552C Floqswab, as this is the ONLY validated swab for this test. Queensland Health facilities can order through FAMMIS using material number 1037 2965.
    Flocked swab
  • Send the swab to the laboratory. DO NOT rinse into ThinPrep solution.

Patient collection instructions and guidelines

Request forms

A new request form has been developed to capture specific clinical information, which is required for Medicare reimbursement and acceptance of the results into the National Cancer Screening Register.

Download the cervical screening request form (PDF, 1.1 MB)—eligibility criteria for self-collect samples as well as collection and handling requirements are on the back of the request form.

Contact your local pathology laboratory for hard copies. For digital hospital sites you can order via ieMR.

Need more information?

Email the project team at

Refer to the following websites:

Last updated: 1 April 2021