Expansion of cervical screening self-collection from 1 July 2022

From 1 July this year, the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) will expand screening test options, offering self-collection as a choice to all people participating in cervical screening. Self-collection allows screening participants to have the ability to take their own vaginal sample for HPV testing; for many people removing a significant barrier to participation in screening.

This means that all NCSP participants aged 25-74 years will have the choice to screen either by a self-collected vaginal sample or a clinician collected sample from the cervix (accessed through a healthcare provider in both cases).

Recent evidence has shown that the sensitivity and specificity of HPV testing to detect CIN2+ in self-collected samples were similar to those for clinician-collected samples when using validated PCR-based HPV assays.

A self-collected sample is taken from the vagina (not the cervix). It can be tested for the presence of the human papillomavirus (HPV) but not cytology (cervical cell abnormalities). If HPV is detected on a self-collected sample, depending on the type of HPV, it is recommended a patient should have a speculum examination with a cervical sample collected for liquid-based cytology (LBC), or be referred directly for colposcopy. Updated NCSP clinical guidelines now provide the latest advice on the expanded eligibility to screen via self-collection, preparing health professionals for upcoming changes to the NCSP.

To support these changes, Cancer Council WA have launched the ‘At Your Cervix self-collection’ campaign (pictured) to assist health professionals in talking with patients about their cervical screening options and facilitating self-collection. For more information, visit the campaign website.