Cervical Pap smears, Cervical Liquid Based Cytology and Cervical HPV samples
Alfred Pathology Service does not process or report on cervical Pap smears, cervical liquid based cytology (eg. ThinPrep) or Cervical HPV DNA screening specimens. All cervical screening samples are referred to the Victorian Cytology Service (VCS-Pathology) located in Carlton.
Clinicians are requested to send samples directly to VCS-Pathology where possible. A free courier pick-up service is available. Specimens can also be returned via mail in special Reply Paid satchels available from VCS-Pathology.
Contact VCS-Pathology on 9250 0300 for further details on transport options or to order specimen mailers and satchels. Helpful information on specimen collection and transport is provided on the VCS-Pathology web page (see http://www.vcspathology.org.au/)
A pathology report by VCS is returned directly to the referring clinician. Alfred Pathology Service does not maintain records of Cervical screening results in PathNet.
Important Note on Changes to Cervical Screening from 2017
The National Cervical Screening Program is changing. Due to the relationship between persistent infection with high-risk types of HPV and the development of cervical cancer, testing for the presence of (high-risk) HPV DNA in cervical cell specimens has the potential to identify women at increased risk of developing cervical cancer. Women who test HPV-negative are at very low risk for CIN3 and cancer for at least five years. Women who are HPV-positive, HPV 16-positive or HPV 16/18-positive are associated with medium-term risk of CIN3 or cancer.
From 1 May 2017:
- the Pap smear will be replaced with the more accurate Cervical Screening Test. The new Cervical Screening Test detects human papillomavirus (HPV) infection through PCR analysis for HPV DNA. The new screening test will be listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule.
- the time between screening tests will change from two to five years
- the age at which screening starts will increase from 18 years to 25 years
- a new National Cervical Screening Register will be established as part of the National Cancer Screening Register.
- women aged 70 to 74 years will be invited to have an exit test. Screening will cease at age 74.
- women of any age with symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge and pain can continue to have a cervical test at any age.
The procedure for collecting the sample for HPV testing is the same as the procedure for having a Pap smear. A small sample of cells is still taken from the cervix using a swab or cervical brush.
HPV vaccinated women still require cervical screening as the HPV vaccine does not protect against all the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.