About the programme

It is estimated that up to 90 percent of cases of the most common form of cervical cancer could be prevented if women have a smear test every three years.

The National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) was set up in 1990 to reduce the number of women who develop cancer of the cervix and the number who die from it.  More than a million women are enrolled, over 95 percent of all eligible women.

The number of women who get cervical cancer and the number of women who die from it has reduced by 60 percent, since the establishment of the programme in 1990.

NCSP encourages women to have regular cervical smear tests and to check that abnormal results are followed up.

The NCSP aims to reduce the number of women in New Zealand who develop cervical cancer and the number who die from it.

The NCSP does this by:

  • informing women about the importance of having the cervical screening tests
  • promoting cervical screening tests on a regular basis to women aged 20–70
  • ensuring high-quality and culturally appropriate services
  • supporting women with abnormal tests
  • ensuring there is regular monitoring to see that the goals of the programme are being met.

The NCSP acknowledges the importance of the Treaty of Waitangi in providing a screening programme that is successful for all New Zealand women.

The benefits of being in the Programme

​Many women are embarrassed or whakamā about having a cervical smear test. For some, the cervix is a sacred area and not easy to talk about. But regular testing protects both the health of each woman and the wellbeing of her whānau (immediate and extended family).

If abnormal cell changes are found early through cervical screening, they can be treated very effectively.

By being a part of the national programme:

  • your screening history will be fully recorded in a secure electronic database, the NCSP Register
  • your information helps smear takers and laboratories to decide when the next smear is due or if follow-up is required
  • you will receive a letter welcoming you to the Programme. This letter includes the result of your first cervical smear taken within the Programme
  • you will receive a reminder if you are a few months overdue for your smear test
  • if you have a smear test result that is abnormal, you will receive a letter from the Programme
  • if you have a smear test result that is abnormal, the NCSP Register provides a back-up system to check that you received the appropriate follow-up investigation and/or treatment
  • you will receive a letter informing you when you no longer need to have cervical smears
  • your enrolment in the Programme will help make it a success for all New Zealand women.  A high number of women must take part to enable it to work well and achieve its aims.

Ko tō oranga ngā kau te mea nui, 
Your wellbeing is the primary consideration.

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Page last updated: 27 November 2014
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