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The New Cervical Screening Test in Australia

The new five-yearly Cervical Screening Test detects infection with Human papillomavirus (HPV) and replaces the two-yearly Pap test. If HPV is detected, the laboratory will automatically conduct a reflex liquid-based cytology (LBC) test on the same sample to determine if cellular abnormalities are present.

If both tests are performed, the pathology report will include the combined result as a risk category (low, intermediate and higher) with recommended clinical management. If any glandular abnormalities are detected, follow up in accordance with the 2016 Guidelines is required. Patients who have signs or symptoms suggestive of cervical disease are tested and managed through a different clinical pathway.

Early changes in cervical cells rarely cause symptoms. If early cell changes progress, the most common signs include:

  • Vaginal bleeding between periods
  • Menstrual bleeding that is longer or heavier than usual
  • Bleeding after intercourse
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Leg pain or swelling
  • Low back pain

Patients at any age who have signs or symptoms are recommended to have a co-test (HPV and LBC). Consider referral for the appropriate investigations to exclude genital tract malignancy. Read more here.

View the new cervical screening pathway flowchart

Further information on the pathway is available here.

Go to the National Cervical Screening Program website


The ThinPrep® Pap Test (Liquid Based Cytology)

The ThinPrep Pap Test is a liquid-based Cervical Screening Test that employs an alcohol based fluid transport medium to immediately preserve cells, allow for out of vial Human Papillomavirus testing, and allows for the automated slide processing which eliminates debris and distributes a representative portion of cells on a slide in a thin, even layer when required. A ThinPrep Pap test slide is clearer and easier to read as it minimises obscuring blood and mucous, to provide increased accuracy for assessment of the cells. The ThinPrep process ultimately improves the quality of the sample, preparing a slide that is clearer for diagnostic review.*

The ThinPrep Pap test sample is the complete solution with multiple testing options performed from one vial: Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Liquid Based Cytology, and also chlamydia and gonorrhoea, Trichomonas vaginalis and Mycoplasma genitalium.1

Proven effectiveness

Research shows the ThinPrep Pap test as more likely to detect high-grade abnormalities compared to the conventional pap smear.*5,6 In Australia, the ThinPrep system is clinically proven to be 27% more effective at detecting high-grade abnormalities and 56% more effective at finding low-grade abnormalities compared to the conventional Pap smear.5,6 In addition there is a 94% decrease in unsatisfactory reports with the ThinPrep Pap test.7

Reproducible, representative sample

With the ThinPrep Pap test, the clinician collects the Cervical Screening Test sample using either a broom-like device or the brush/spatula combination. Instead of smearing a portion of the sample onto a slide, the collection device is rinsed in the ThinPrep vial, capturing virtually the entire cell sample. The specimen is then sent to the laboratory, where an HPV test is performed, and when required an automated processor prepares a slide by dispersing and filtering the sample and then placing a representative sample on the slide.

Improved slide quality

In addition to the ThinPrep Pap test’s improved slide quality, Hologic’s proprietary technology eliminates common errors associated with preparing a specimen.*


For more information about the reimbursement of Cervical Screening Tests and Liquid Based Cytology Tests visit here and here.

The Complete Solution

One vial, multiple testing options. From a single specimen collected in the ThinPrep Pap test vial, doctors can screen for cervical disease and HPV, as well as common sexually transmitted infections (STIs) confidently and accurately.*

  • Cytology
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea
  • Trichomonas vaginalis
  • Mycoplasma genitalium

Note: Molecular tests, such as Human papillomavirus, chlamydia, gonorrhoea, Trichomonas vaginalis, Mycoplasma genitalium, can be performed from the same material collected for the ThinPrep Pap Test.

Contact your laboratory for more information.

The Cervical Screening Test collection procedure is the same as the ThinPrep Pap Test collection procedure performed in the video.

Download Sampling Protocols
Download Thin Prep Pap Test Training Bulletin Download ThinPrep Instructions For Use

Correct Collection Counts

An optimal ThinPrep Cervical Screening Test specimen relies on accurate cell collection.

One of the best ways to achieve this is to avoid the use of lubricants as they may interfere with pathology tests. However, if necessary, a small amount of water-soluable, carbomer-free lubricant is best, applied sparingly to the outer portion of the speculum only, avoiding the tip.

The sampling protocols below provide a step-by-step guide to assist in adequate cell collection and to assist in gaining a clear read, first time, every time.

ThinPrep® Pap Test

  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
  6. Hutchinson M.L. Homogenous Sampling Accounts for the Increased Diagnostic Accuracy Using the ThinPrep Processor Am J Clin Path. 101:215-219, 1994References: