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Cervical Screening with the ThinPrep® Pap test

NEWS: From 1 May - 30 November 2017, Liquid Based Cytology (LBC), such as the ThinPrep Pap test, will be included as part of the National Cervical Screening Program. Women will no longer incur any out-of- pocket expenses for the test as it has now been added to the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS).

Please talk to your doctor to find out more or visit here.


The ThinPrep system combines scientifically-proven technology used to prepare the sample of cervical cells collected by a healthcare professional and a computerised analysis system used by the laboratory to highlight potentially abnormal cells. The two components – the ThinPrep Pap test and the ThinPrep Imaging System – have been extensively studied and used around the world including Australia.1

A more effective Pap Test

The ThinPrep Pap test was developed to address some limitations of the conventional Pap test. Studies around the world prove the ThinPrep system is significantly more effective at detecting abnormalities and determining if a woman’s cervix is truly healthy.1

Benefits of the ThinPrep Pap test

The ThinPrep Pap test is more likely to detect high-grade abnormalities compared to conventional Pap test - also known as a Pap Smear.2,5

How the ThinPrep Pap test works?

The ThinPrep Pap test is a liquid-based cytology test where a woman’s cells are collected by a healthcare professional, transported to the laboratory in the liquid medium and processed on to a glass slide in a thin, even layer which improves the quality of the slide.1*

Extensively studied and used around the world

The ThinPrep Pap test and ThinPrep Imaging System have undergone more than 170 independent, peer reviewed clinical studies around the world, including Australia. The ThinPrep system is widely used across the developed world, including the USA, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.1-3

How much does a ThinPrep Pap test cost?

From 1 May 2017 a Medicare rebate is available for costs associated with the ThinPrep Pap test at the laboratory. There are no out-of-pocket expenses for women who have a direct-to-vial ThinPrep Pap test in medical clinics, doctors’ offices and laboratories where bulk billing is available. You may want to ask if a cost is involved when booking your appointment. Learn more here.

Common questions about cervical disease and Human Pappillomavirus (HPV)

Could I have cervical abnormalities?

It is unlikely that you would be able to tell on your own. Abnormal cells usually don’t cause symptoms. That’s why routine Pap testing is recommended every 2 years for early detection and treatment. If you are experiencing unusual bleeding, pelvic pain, or urinary pain, you should speak with your doctor.

How does someone get HPV?

HPV is a group of over 100 virus types that are transmitted by skin-to-skin genital contact. As many as four-in-five sexually active women will be infected with HPV at some point in their lives.3-5 Infection with HPV is so common it can be considered a normal part of being sexually active.

I have HPV — will it progress to something serious?

Most likely not. About 90% of HPV infections will clear on their own in 2 years. In most cases when a woman acquires HPV, her body (immune system) naturally removes the virus and it does not cause any problems. However some women are unable to clear the virus and this persistent infection puts a woman at greater risk of developing cervical disease.7

What is a Pap test?

A Pap test is a simple test, usually performed by a GP or nurse, to check for abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix. These changes act as an early warning sign that cervical disease may develop in the future.8 Cells are collected from the cervix and sent to a laboratory where they are reviewed under a microscope for anything unusual.

Common questions about cervical screening & vaccination

How often should I have a Pap test?

The Australian Government’s National Cervical Screening Program recommends all women who have ever been sexually active have a Pap test every 2 years from the age of 18 until the age of 70, even if you have had the HPV vaccine.¹

What can I do to prepare for my Pap test?

The best time to schedule your Pap test is 10 to 14 days following the first day of your last period. Avoid vaginal medication, lubricants and vaginal contraceptives for 2 days before your Pap test.

Is there any reason to get a Pap test more than once every 2 years?

Some women may need to have a Pap test more often. Your doctor may recommend this for reasons such as: if you have a compromised immune system; if you have had a previous abnormal Pap test; if you have previously had treatment for cervical abnormalities; or if you tested positive for a persistent HPV infection.

I've had a hysterectomy - do I still need a Pap test?

Women may still need Pap tests after a hysterectomy, depending on the type of hysterectomy they have had and the reasons for the surgery.2 Your health professional can advise you.

What is an HPV test?

An HPV test looks for high-risk HPV infections. Testing positive with an HPV test does not mean that you have cervical abnormalities. It simply means that you currently have high-risk HPV.

Why would my doctor suggest that I get an HPV test?

In Australia, if you have had treatment for a high-grade abnormality your doctor may recommend you get tested for HPV.

Can I get the HPV vaccine?

The National HPV Vaccination Program is for girls and boys aged 12 and 13. However older females and males might benefit from the vaccine. Discuss your specific situation with your doctor to see if the HPV vaccine is right for you.

Will the HPV vaccine protect me from cervical disease?

Vaccination protects women against the two main types of HPV which cause 70% of cervical disease cases, however as it may not protect women against the HPV types that cause the remaining 30% of cases, routine Pap tests every 2 years are still essential.1

When will the renewed National Cervical Screening Program (HPV Primary Screening) will be introduced?

The Department of Health announced on 1 May 2017 that the Renewed National Cervical Screening Program will be implemented on 1 December 2017. The interim measure is to add Liquid Based Cytology to Medicare Benefits Scheme. The Government encourages women to continue to have Pap tests every 2 years and talk to your doctor if you have any questions. Learn more here.

Understanding abnormal Pap tests

An abnormal Pap test result does not necessarily mean something serious. It can occur for many different reasons. When found early, most of the problems that cause an abnormal Pap test result can be treated.1

What does 'abnormal' really mean?

An abnormal Pap test means some of the cells of the cervix differ from normal cells.2 Most abnormalities are minor and usually clear up on their own.3 A high-grade (severe) abnormality can indicate that a woman is at high risk of developing the early stages of serious cervical disease.4

Should I be worried?

Many women feel anxious after they find out their Pap Test result was abnormal, but remember most abnormalities are minor and when found early, most of the problems related to cervical abnormalities can be successfully treated.1

Is further testing needed?

If you have an abnormal Pap test result, further testing may be necessary. Other testing may include a follow-up Pap test, a pelvic exam, a colposcopy or an HPV test.7

How common are abnormal Pap tests?

Each year close to 30,000 Australian women are diagnosed with a cervical abnormality (low and high grade) from their Pap tests, as confirmed by histology.

  1. Data on file with Hologic, Inc.
  2. Davey E, et al. Accuracy of reading liquid based cytology slides using the ThinPrep Imager compared with conventional cytology: prospective study. British Medical Journal. 2007;335(7609):28
  3. ThinPrep 2000 System Package Insert 2011
  4. United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
  5. Roberts J.M. A Three-Armed Trial of the ThinPrep Imaging System. Diagnostic Cytopathology, vol. 35, no. 2, 96-102, 20
  1. World Health Organisation -
    cancer=29&type=0&statistic=0&prevalence=0&color_palette=default. Accessed May 2017.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Cervical screening in Australia 2007–2008. Cancer series No. 54. Cat. no. CAN 50. 2010: Canberra
  3. Baseman and Koutsky. The epidemiology of human Papillomavirus infections, J Clin Virology 2005; 32S: S16-24
  4. Ho et al. Natural History of Cervicovaginal Papillomavirus Infection in Young Women. N Engl J Med 1998; 338(7): 423-8
  5. Brown et al, A Longitudinal Study of Genital Human Papillomavirus Infection in a Cohort of Closely Followed Adolescent Women, J Infect Dis 2005; 191: 182-92
  1. The Australian National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) - Accessed May 2017.
  2. National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC): Australian Government, Screening to prevent cervical cancer: guidelines for management of asymptomatic women with screen detected abnormalities, Commonwealth of Australia, 2005
  3. Rodriguez, et al. Rapid clearance of human Papillomavirus and implications for clinical focus on persistent infections. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100:513-17
  1. Cancer Council Australia - Accessed May 2017.
  2. An abnormal Pap smear result: What this means for you booklet. National Cervical Screening Program. Commonwealth of Australia
  3. Stanley M., Immune responses to human Papillomavirus, Vaccine 2006; 24: S1-S6
  4. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Cervical screening in Australia 2007–2008. Cancer series No. 54. Cat. no. CAN 50. 2010: Canberra
  5. Bell S, et al, Psychological response to cervical screening, Prevent Med 1995; 24:610 16
  6. Basen-Engquist K, et al, Cervical cancer- Behavioral factors related to screening, diagnosis and survivor’s quality of life, Cancer 2003; 98 (9 Suppl); 2009-2014
  7. An abnormal Pap smear result: What this means for you booklet. National Cervical Screening Program. Commonwealth of Australia 2006
  8. Wain GV. Cervical cancer prevention: the saga goes on, but so much has changed! MJA 2006; 195(9): 476-7
  9. NCIRS (National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases. Human Papillomavirus vaccines for Australians: Information for GPs and Immunisation providers. September 2006