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Self-collection for cervical screening a welcome "game changer"

Extending self-collection options for cervical screening is a "game changer" which will improve access to care and reduce the risk of missed tests as Australia pushes toward cervical cancer elimination, Family Planning NSW Medical Director Dr Deborah Bateson said.

We welcome news from the Australian Government that all people eligible for a cervical screening test will have the option of self-collection from 1 July 2022. This change will afford people who may have been avoiding screening more control and choice and echoes our call last month, October 2021, for more flexible approaches to screening.

"We know health policy which offers choice and control to patients really helps to break down barriers to important services like cervical cancer screening," Dr Bateson said.

"A flexible approach to screening improves access to care and reduces risk in terms of undetected disease.

"For some people, self-collection is much more acceptable than having a doctor perform the screening test.

"As health workers we really hope the choice of self-collection for all will greatly increase the acceptability and uptake of screening.

"We're delighted the Australian Government has made this announcement and backed our view that self-collection for cervical screening is not just appropriate but a game changer for people who may have been holding off on important screening."

Cervical cancer has long been a disease where inequities are highlighted and screening rates have remained below the general population for most priority groups including Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples, transgender and gender diverse people, or people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

"Australia has some of the best screening rates in the world and certainly while our chances of eliminating cervical cancer remain high, they also improve each time we take steps to improve the acceptability of screening for more people."

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Media enquiries:

P: 0402 880 653

E: media@fpnsw.org.au

W: https://www.fpnsw.org.au/

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