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Self collection and the Cervical Screening Test

Over 70% of Australian women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer are overdue for screening or have never had a cervical screen - it is vital that we find new ways to support women to participate in cervical screening.

Many South Australian women are currently not up to date with cervical screening. Self collection may be a suitable alternative for women who are over 30 and who are not already participating in regular cervical screening.

If you are overdue for a cervical screening test, talk to your doctor about the cervical screening test and whether self collection is the best option for you. New evidence shows that self collection is just as effective as a clinician collected sample for cervical screening.

Eligibility criteria

Self collection may be an option if you are 30 years old or over, and have either:

  • never had a Cervical Screening Test (or Pap test) or
  • had your last screen four or more years ago (at that time it would have been called a Pap test).

How to collect your own sample

Your healthcare worker will assist you with instructions on taking the sample. They will provide you with a swab which looks like a long handled cotton bud. It is easy and you just need to collect cells from any part of the vaginal wall. You do not need to be able to find your own cervix.

Information for healthcare providers

Cervical screening for healthcare providers includes information for healthcare providers who wish to offer the self collection option to eligible patients.

Please note that pregnancy is no longer a contraindication for self collection. As this is a recent update to the guidelines, not all resources have been updated to reflect this change. Please see the clinical guidelines for further detail on self collection and for screening in pregnancy.

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