Cervical cancer screening


    Cervical cancer screening participation rate, by state and territory, 2018-2019

    • The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) aims to prevent cervical cancer with regular testing. The program was introduced in 1991 and is one of Australia’s three population-based cancer screening programs.1
    • In December 2017, a renewed NCSP was introduced which included a change from 2-year Pap tests for the target age group 20-69 to 5-yearly Cervical Screening Tests (CST) for the target age group 25-74. While the Pap test looked for cell changes in the cervix, the CST looks for human papillomavirus (HPV), a common infection spread through sexual contact, which can lead to those changes. Given these screening changes, the 2018–2019 data cannot be compared to previous years. The National Immunisation Program supports the NCSP by providing free HPV vaccines to young Australians.1,2
    • Over the 2 years 2018–2019, more than 3.1 million people aged 25–74 had a screening HPV test in Australia, which equates to an age-standardised participation rate of 46.5%.2
    • In 2019, there were 1,528,939 primary screening episodes in people aged 25–74, of which 27,584 came from the ACT. Classification by degrees of risk of cervical abnormality in the ACT was similar to the national average and was classified as follows:
      • 92.4% were low risk for significant cervical abnormality
      • 5.9% were intermediate risk for significant cervical abnormality
      • 1.6% were higher risk for significant cervical abnormality
      • 0.1% could not be assigned a risk (due to unsatisfactory or incomplete tests).2
    • It is also important to note that the number of new cervical cancer cases and deaths in the ACT is very small, and therefore these are not separately reported (e.g. in 2019 there were 9 new cases in the ACT with an age-standardised incidence rate of 4.0 per 100,000 females. This is similar to national data reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which estimated the 2019 age-standardised cervical cancer incidence rate as 6.9 per 100,000 females based on previous years’ trends.3  




    1. Commonwealth Department of Health. National Cervical Screening Program. Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Health; 2021 [cited 2022 Apr 6]. Available from: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/national-cervical-screening-program

    2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). National Cervical Screening Program monitoring report 2020. Canberra: AIHW; 2020 [cited 2022 Apr 6]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer-screening/national-cervical-screening-monitoring-report-2020/contents/summary

    3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Cancer in Australia 2021. Canberra: AIHW; 2021 [cited 2022 Apr 6]. Available from: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/cancer/cancer-in-australia-2021/data.


    To access the data please click on the "View source data" link at the bottom of the visualisation. This link will open up a data table that you can download.