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 NCSP participation and performance.

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

Cervical cancer cases and deaths are low by international standards

There were 682 new cases diagnosed in 2011 and 143 women died from cervical cancer in 2012. This is equivalent to between 9 and 10 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed per 100,000 women in 2011 and 2 deaths from cervical cancer per 100,000 women in 2012. These age-standardised rates are very similar to those for 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Both incidence and mortality 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.

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

Around 6 in 10 women participate in the National Cervical Screening Program

In 2012-2013, more than 3.8 million women participated in the NCSP. This was 58% of women aged 20-69. This age-standardised rate is similar to 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, for which the participation rate was 57% and 58%, respectively.

Participation differed only a little across remoteness areas, ranging between 58% and 60% in all areas except for Very remote areas where it was 55% (age-standardised rates).

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 (age-standardised rates).

National participation rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are not available due to Indigenous status information not being collected on pathology forms in all jurisdictions, although there is evidence that this population group is under-screened.

Relatively few women rescreen early, and a third respond to a reminder letter

Only 13% of women with a negative Pap test in 2012 rescreened earlier than recommended. Of the women sent a 27-month reminder letter by a cervical screening register in 2012, 33% rescreened within 3 months. These figures are both very similar to those for 2011.

High-grade abnormality detection the same, despite decreases in ages <25

In 2013, for every 1,000 women screened, between 8 and 9 women had a high-grade abnormality detected by histology, providing an opportunity for treatment before possible progression to cancer. This age-standardised rate is similar to 2012, for which the rate was 8.

While the detection of high-grade abnormalities was most common among women aged 25-29, there were historically low rates of detection for women aged under 20 and 20-24.