The Cervical Screening Test provides the best protection against cervical cancer and, as of 1 July 2022, women and people with a cervix aged 25-74 who are due or overdue for a Cervical Screening Test can choose between self-collection or having a sample collected by their healthcare provider.
Research shows that Australia is on track to eliminate cervical cancer by 2035 through a combination of the HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening—however to reach that target, eligible women need to take part in regular, five yearly cervical cancer screening tests.
Self-collection is safe, easy to do and is just as accurate as a sample collected by a GP or nurse.
How does self-collection work?
You can access self-collection anywhere that you would normally have a Cervical Screening Test, such as a GP clinic or women’s health clinic. When making your appointment, it is recommended that you ask if self-collection is available at the clinic.
A self-collection test uses a long-handled cotton swab to collect your own vaginal sample. You can take this test in private at the GP clinic—in the clinic bathroom or behind a curtain—and return to your doctor.
Visit our self-collection for cervical screening page for a step-by-step guide on how to do the self-collection test.
Why is self-collection important?
Cervical screening self-collection is a game changer for Australian women and people with a cervix—particularly those in under-screened communities who now have choice and control about how they receive their Cervical Screening Test.
Cancer Council SA Prevention Coordinator Diem Tran says that self-collection has the potential to increase cervical cancer screening rates in under-screened communities and get us closer to eliminating cervical cancer as a public health issue.
“While South Australia leads the country in cervical cancer screening, we know that over 40 per cent of those eligible still aren’t taking part in regular cervical cancer screening tests,” she said.
“There are some groups that are less likely to screen, including Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, people who identify as LGBT+, people with disabilities, people who have experienced sexual violence, post-menopausal women and people who have had previous negative cervical screening experiences.
“Data also indicates that cervical cancer screening is lower in some regional and remote South Australian communities, where access to a GP or health professional may be limited.
“Our hope is that through self-collection, we can increase cervical cancer screening participation, ultimately helping to prevent or catch cancer early and getting us closer to a future free from cervical cancer.”
If you’re between 25-74 years old, have ever been sexually active and are due or overdue for your Cervical Screening Test, ask your GP, nurse or Aboriginal Health Worker about self-collection.
For more information on self-collection visit our webpage here or contact Cancer Council 13 11 20 to speak to a Cancer Nurse.