There are two options for cervical screening
Talk to your GP about your options.

Cervical screening
Which option is best for me?

What is a Cervical Screening Test (CST)?

A Cervical Screening Test is the best way to prevent cervical cancer. The Cervical Screening Test looks for human papillomavirus (HPV). Persistent HPV infection can cause abnormal cervical cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer. This usually takes a long time, about 10 to 15 years.

There are two ways to have a Cervical Screening Test. You can choose to:

  • collect your own sample; or
  • have a healthcare provider collect your sample.


"Self-collection is opening the door to so many women who would have previously been reluctant to be screened…women of all ages have heard about it, they trust the process and are keen to be involved."

Helen Wilcox, General Practitioner

Understanding the two options for your Cervical Screening Test

Collecting your own sample
A sample collected from the vagina
Checks for HPV
Does not collect cervical cells to check for abnormal cell changes
If HPV is found, you will need to return to have a sample collected by a healthcare provider or specialist to check for abnormal cervical cell changes.
How do I collect my own sample?
  • Your healthcare provider will explain how to do the test and give you a sampling swab
  • A private place within the healthcare setting will be provided for you to collect your sample
  • Using the swab, you will collect a sample from the vagina
  • Your healthcare provider will send the sample to the laboratory for testing
Having a healthcare provider collect your sample
A sample collected from the cervix containing cervical cells
Checks for HPV
If HPV is found, the same sample is checked for abnormal cervical cell changes.
How will my healthcare provider collect my sample?

Having a CST taken by a healthcare provider is similar to having a Pap smear.

  • The test is done in a private and confidential space
  • Your healthcare provider will insert a speculum into the vagina so that they can see the cervix
  • A small soft brush is then used to collect a sample of cervical cells
  • Your healthcare provider will send the sample to the laboratory for testing

It may be a bit uncomfortable, but it should not hurt. You can ask your healthcare provider to stop at any time.

Self-collection FAQs

How do I know if collecting my own sample is safe, effective and accurate?

Recent evidence demonstrates a Cervical Screening Test using a self-collected vaginal sample is as accurate as a clinician-collected sample taken from the cervix during a speculum examination.  For more information on the evidence, click on Information for healthcare providers.

How will I know if I have collected my own sample correctly?

Your healthcare provider will explain how to do the test. View the four steps on how to collect your own sample to see how it’s done:

How to collect your own sample sheet

Can I pick up a swab from the pharmacy and collect my own sample at home?

No. Both Cervical Screening Test options can only be accessed through a healthcare provider.

Three things you need to know about cervical screening

One test every five years can save your life

If you’re a woman or person with a cervix aged 25 to 74, your best protection against cervical cancer is regular cervical screening.

Regular cervical screening prevents almost all cervical cancers.

Most people who develop cervical cancer have either never screened or do not screen regularly.

Stay up to date

It's easy to ensure you're up to date with your cervical screening.

Speak to your healthcare provider or visit the National Cancer Screening Register to find out when you're next due.

Discuss your collection options with a healthcare provider

Any healthcare provider who offers cervical screening (GPs, nurses, gynaecologists) can help you decide which collection option is best for you. Visit Healthy WA to find a healthcare provider that meets your needs.

Contact your chosen healthcare provider to arrange your Cervical Screening Test today.

Want to find out when your next Cervical Screening Test is due?

Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you when you’re next due, or you can contact the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR). The NCSR is a confidential database of cervical test results. Your healthcare provider can access your screening history and results through the NCSR.

The NCSR sends letters to invite you to start screening when you turn 25, and reminders when you are due or overdue for a test or follow-up.

To ensure your details are up to date, contact the NCSR on 1800 627 701 or visit their website.

Call NCSR on 1800 627 701Visit NCSR website