Cervical Screening Guidelines

The Guidelines for Cervical Screening in New Zealand outline the management of women with abnormal cervical smears, and incorporate key National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) policies such as recommendations as to the age to start screening, how often to screen and when to stop.

The guideines incorporate results of an extensive review of evidence together with expert advice from a wide range of medical practitioners, epidemiologists and consumer representatives.

Hard copies of these guidelines are available from our Publications Centre on (04) 496 2277, Ministry of Health Publications, Sector Operations Contact Centre, Private Bag 3015, Whanganui 4540 or email customerservice@health.govt.nz. Please quote HP4656 when ordering this resource.

Changes to the 2010 edition of the guidelines

Major changes in the guidelines include:

  • the recall period for ‘low-grade’ abnormalities
  • more detailed guidance regarding colposcopy and follow-up care
  • an expanded section for management of women with special clinical circumstances
  • the introduction of human papillomavirus (HPV) testing (fully integrated into the guidelines by late 2009).

The introduction of these guidelines has been planned to coincide with the go-live date of the new National Cervical Screening Programme Register. This essential database stores the screening histories (cervical smears, colposcopy, histology and HPV results) of women who participate in the programme, facilitating recall of women and monitoring of programme performance.

The development and revision of the guidelines is an ongoing process that incorporates new evidence as this becomes available. The NCSP will continue to monitor and evaluate the changes being implemented and will introduce further updates as and when required.

In this regard we will be specifically examining new evidence on the use of HPV testing, in particular with respect to the management of women with glandular lesions.

Please send any comments or queries about the guidelines to the National Cervical Screening Programme at NCSP@health.govt.nz


The NCSP- Register Data Analysis (pdf, 63 KB) was used in the development of the guidelines.

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Page last updated: 04 June 2019