Cervical cancer prevention in Australia: Planning for the future

Cancer Cytopathol. 2016 Apr;124(4):235-40. doi: 10.1002/cncy.21643. Epub 2015 Nov 30.


The high rate of coverage that has been achieved to date by the Australian government's Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination Program has already led to profound reductions in the prevalence of biopsy-confirmed, high-grade abnormalities and of vaccine-preventable HPV types in Australia. Declines in the prevalence of vaccine preventable HPV have occurred not only in vaccinated women but also in unvaccinated women, suggesting a herd-immunity affect. These declines were anticipated on the basis of modelling and were the major drivers for the changes proposed to the Australian National Cervical Screening Program. The federal and state-based Australian governments established a "Renewal Steering Committee," which conducted a literature search and a review of the available evidence to assess its applicability and quality. Together with this information the committee also used modeling to determine the optimal screening pathway for cervical cancer screening and constructed a plan for implementing the changes that will be required to transition from the currently successful screening program to the renewed program. The committee recommended that Australia move to a screening program based on testing every 5 years using an HPV test with partial genotyping with reflex liquid-based cytology (LBC) triage for HPV-vaccinated and unvaccinated women ages 25 to 69 years, and an additional exit test for women up to age 74 years. Primary HPV testing and reflex LBC will be funded by government. Symptomatic women outside the screening program will also be able to access government funded testing. The new screening program, to be rolled out in 2017, will also provide a cost-effective framework for an evaluation of the national HPV vaccination program, enabling ongoing monitoring of HPV genotypes and cervical lesions in screened women.

Keywords: Australia; cervical cancer; human papillomavirus (HPV); screening; vaccination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Early Detection of Cancer / standards
  • Early Detection of Cancer / trends
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Planning / methods
  • Human papillomavirus 11 / immunology
  • Human papillomavirus 11 / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Mass Screening / organization & administration*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Primary Prevention / organization & administration*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Young Adult


  • Papillomavirus Vaccines