The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) aims to reduce cervical cancer cases, as well as illness and death from cervical cancer in Australia, through an organised approach to cervical screening aimed at detecting and treating high-grade abnormalities before possible progression to cervical cancer. The target group is women aged 20-69.

This report is the latest in the Cervical screening in Australia series, which is published annually to provide regular monitoring of national participation and performance for the NCSP. This report provides data for the 2011-2012 period of participation in the NCSP.

The following statistics refer to the latest data available for women aged 20-69.

How many women were diagnosed with, or died from, cervical cancer?

There were 682 new cases diagnosed in 2010, and 152 women died from cervical cancer in 2011. This is equivalent to 9.6 new cases and 2.0 deaths per 100,000 women, respectively.  These rates are very similar to those for 2009 and 2010.

Incidence and mortality both halved between the introduction of the NCSP in 1991 and the year 2002, and have since remained at around 9 new cases and 2 deaths per 100,000 women.

The incidence of cervical cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was more than twice that of non-Indigenous women, and mortality 4 times the non-Indigenous rate.

How many women participated in the National Cervical Screening Program?

In 2011-2012, more than 3.7 million women participated in the NCSP. This was 58% of women in the target population (after adjustment to exclude those without a cervix). This is very similar to the participation rates of 58% in 2009-2010 and 57% in 2010-2011.

Participation differed across remoteness areas, with the highest participation of 59% in Inner regional and 58% in Major cities, and the lowest of 54% in Very remote areas.

There was a clear trend of increasing participation with increasing socioeconomic status of residence from 52% in areas of lowest socioeconomic status to 64% in areas of highest socioeconomic status.

Participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is not available due to Indigenous status information not being collected on pathology forms, although there is evidence that this population group is under-screened.

How many women rescreened early or after a reminder letter?

Only 13% of women with a negative Pap test in 2011 rescreened earlier than recommended.

Of the women sent a 27-month reminder letter by a cervical screening register in 2011, 32% rescreened within 3 months. These figures are both very similar to those for 2010.

How many high-grade abnormalities were detected?

In 2012, for every 1,000 women screened, 8 women had a high-grade abnormality detected by histology, providing an opportunity for treatment before possible progression to cancer. This is very similar to high-grade abnormality detection for 2011.

Peak high-grade abnormality detection was for women aged 25-29, with high-grade detection for women under 20 and for those aged 20-24 reaching historically low rates.