Expert health committee recommends cervical screening overhaul

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oncologynews.com.au cancer cellSource: The Age – Dan Harrison.

Women would have their first screening for cervical cancer at 25 and would be tested only every five years under dramatic changes recommended by the Australian government’s expert advisory committee on medical procedures.

The Medical Services Advisory Committee has recommended a new test for human papillomavirus, or HPV, replace Pap smears from 2016.

The procedure for collecting the sample for HPV testing would be the same as the procedure for having a Pap smear, the federal health department said in a statement on Monday.

A doctor or nurse would take a small sample of cells from the woman’s cervix to send to a laboratory for examination. The new test would be undertaken every five years. Currently women undertake Pap smears every two to three years.

The committee recommended screening should start when a woman was 25. Currently, it is recommended that women have their first Pap smear between the ages of 18 and 20.

Under the proposed new system, women would have an exit test between the ages of 70 and 74. Women with symptoms including pain and bleeding could have a cervical test at any age.

“The independent expert committee accepted the latest scientific evidence that shows this new screening approach will work even better by detecting human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which we now know to be the first step in developing cervical cancer,” the statement from the health department said.

“MSAC found that a HPV test every five years is even more effective than, and just as safe as, screening with a Pap test every two years. MSAC also determined that a HPV test every five years can save more lives and women will need fewer tests than in the current two yearly Pap test program.”

Women vaccinated against HPV will still require cervical screening…read more.

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