From 1 July 2022, the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will expand screening test options, offering self-collection as a choice to all people participating in cervical screening.
The change means from 1 July 2022 all NCSP participants aged 25-74 years old will have the choice to screen using either a self-collected vaginal sample or a clinician collected sample from the cervix, accessed through a healthcare professional in both cases.
New evidence shows that screening using a self-collected vaginal sample has equivalent sensitivity when compared to a clinician collected cervical sample. A summary of the evidence of the sensitivity of self-collection can be found in the National Cervical Screening Program Clinical Guidelines.
Healthcare professionals continue to play an important role in the National Cervical Screening Program through assessing patient risk and using clinical judgement to recommend testing and follow-up. They are also best placed to talk with their patients about cervical screening to determine the best option of testing for their patients.
A consultation for cervical screening will still need to be offered whether it be for a self-collected vaginal sample or a clinician-collected sample. If self-collection is chosen, healthcare professionals will need to explain how to collect a self-collected sample from the vagina.
Further information about offering self-collection, including eligibility and management of screen-detected abnormalities, can be found in the National Cervical Screening Program Clinical Guidelines.
To guide patients on how to take a self-collected sample from the vagina, you can download or order free hard copies of the Cancer Council SA self-collection postcard.