Notes on the data: Screening programs - Cervical screening

Cervical screening participation, females aged 20 to 69 years, 2013 and 2014 (NSW, Vic, SA, WA and ACT)


Policy context:  Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and curable cancers. It is the nineteenth most frequent cause of cancer deaths in Australian women; and it is estimated that up to 90% of the commonest type of cervical cancer may be prevented, if cell changes are detected and treated early [1].

In 1991, Australia adopted an 'organised approach' to preventing cervical cancer, the National Cervical Screening Program, which recommends and encourages women under 70 years of age who have ever been sexually active to have Pap smears every two years. The key objectives of the Program are to reduce mortality and minimise morbidity from these cancers, and to maximise the efficiency of program delivery and its equity.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Cervical screening in Australia 2010-2011. (AIHW Cat. no. CAN 72.) AIHW: Canberra; 2013.

Notes:  The participation rate for the 24 month period to the end of each calendar year is based on the actual number of women screened as a percentage of the average of the ABS Estimated Resident Population for the two corresponding calendar years, excluding an estimate of those who had undergone a full hysterectomy. If a woman has attended more than once in the 24 months, she is counted once only, and the age is taken from the first visit.

In some instances, percentages are calculated at greater than 100%; this may be the result of:
  • the address data being a postcode which is not allocated to the correct SLA by the concordances available; or
  • the address of the facility where the consultation is held or the service is provided being used, rather than the address of the client/ patient.

In time, with more reliable recording of address details, these occurrences should be reduced.

ACT totals include all of postcode 2618, although approximately 50% of the population in this postcode reside in NSW.

Cervical screening participation numbers within geographic areas along the Victorian and New South Wales borders, specifically the Murray PHN and the Albury Local Government Authority, may be under estimated because women screened in Victoria but who reside in New South Wales may not be fully allocated to the New South Wales geographic area.

Data are not available for Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.


Geography: Data available by Population Health Area, Local Government Area, Primary Health Network, Quintiles and Remoteness Areas

Numerator:  Number of individual women aged 20 to 69 years screened over a 24 month period ending 31 December 2014


Denominator:  Women aged 20 to 69 years (Estimated Resident Population (ABS): average of 30 June 2013 and 30 June 2014; excluding an estimate of those who have had a full hysterectomy)


Detail of analysis:  Per cent


Source:  Compiled by PHIDU based on data from the:

  1. NSW Department of Health and NSW Central Cancer Registry, 2013 and 2014; Victorian Cervical Cytology Register, 2013 and 2014; SA Cervix Screening Program, 2013 and 2014; Western Australia Cervical Cytology Register, 2013 and 2014; and ACT Cytology Register, 2013 and 2014; and
  2. ABS Estimated Resident Population, average of 30 June 2013 and 30 June 2014; with hysterectomy fraction data derived from AIHW analysis of the National Hospitality Morbidity Database. Available at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2016. Cervical screening in Australia 2013-14. Cancer series no. 97 Cat. no. CAN 95. Canberra: AIHW. Appendix C.

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