Under the renewed National Cervical Screening Program, routine cervical screening is not recommended for women under 25 years.
Pathology laboratories are reporting that a significant number of samples are still being submitted from women under 25 years of age. Medicare does not fund routine HPV screening tests for women under 25 and testing of these samples will either need to be privately funded by the patient or, with the consent of the referring practitioner, not be processed.
Commencing screening at age 25 will reduce the investigation and treatment of common cervical abnormalities that would usually resolve by themselves. It can take 10 to 15 years for cervical cancer to develop from persistent HPV.
Women under 25 years who are currently under clinical management for a cervical abnormality should be managed according to the recommendations on transitioning individuals guidelines.
Women who have signs or symptoms suggestive of cervical cancer (such as abnormal vaginal bleeding) should have a HPV and LBC co-test and be referred for appropriate investigation to exclude genital tract malignancy, regardless of age.
However, a single HPV test for women aged between 20 and 24 years of age could be considered for women who experienced sexual activity at a young age (under 14 years) and did not received the HPV vaccine before sexual debut, or for those that have been victims of sexual abuse.
To avoid out of pocket fees for your patients, please familiarise yourself with the Pathology Test Guide for Cervical and Vaginal Testing.
Please note: Self-collection of samples should not be offered to women until further notice.
One of the components of the renewed National Cervical Screening Program is the introduction of self-collected samples for HPV testing. This option has been included to encourage women who are aged 30 years or over, have never had a screening test, (or who are overdue for testing by at least two years and in either case have declined a healthcare provider-collected sample) to participate in cervical screening.
Self-collection can only be implemented by laboratories who are accredited to perform the test. The accreditation process for testing laboratories is still underway, therefore the test is not yet claimable against the MBS.
Healthcare providers who conduct cervical screening tests are advised not to offer self-collection to eligible women until further notice. All other aspects of the renewed National Cervical Screening Program can go ahead as scheduled on 1 December 2017.
Further information on the renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program, visit cancerscreening.gov.au/cervical
Disclaimer: This article was provided by Department of Health. While every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network does not warrant or represent the accuracy, currency and completeness of any information or material included within.