The National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) aims to reduce cervical cancer cases, as well as illness and death resulting 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. While the previous report covered the 2008–2009 period of participation, this report provides data for the 2009–2010 period of participation in the NCSP, as well as the latest available cervical cancer incidence and mortality data (from sources outside 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 637 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in 2008, and 131 women died from this in 2007. This is equivalent to 9 new cases and 2 deaths per 100,000 women, respectively.

Incidence and mortality have both halved since the NCSP was introduced in 1991, remaining at their historic lows of 9 new cases and 2 deaths per 100,000 women since 2002.

The incidence of cervical cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was more than twice that of non-Indigenous women, and mortality of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women was 5 times the non-Indigenous rate.

How many women participated in the National Cervical Screening Program?

In 2009–2010, more than 3.6 million women participated in the NCSP. This was 57% of women in the population (after adjustment to exclude those without a cervix).

Participation was similar across remoteness areas, with only 3 percentage points separating the highest participation of 58% in Major cities from the lowest of 55% in Remote areas.

Participation showed greater differences across socioeconomic status of residence, and a clear trend of increasing participation with increasing socioeconomic status from 52% of women residing in areas of lowest socioeconomic status to 63% of women residing in areas of highest socioeconomic status.

Participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women is not available, although there is evidence that this population group is under-screened.

How many women rescreened early or after a reminder letter?

Only 14% of women with a negative Pap test in 2009 rescreened earlier than recommended.

Of the women sent a 27-month reminder letter by a cervical cytology register in 2009, 32% rescreened within 3 months, indicating that this letter acts as a prompt for many women.

How many high-grade abnormalities were detected?

In 2010, for every 1,000 women screened, 9 women had a high-grade abnormality detected by histology, providing an opportunity for treatment before possible progression to cancer.