Clinical guidelines for National Cervical Screening Programme out for consultation

Friday, September 16, 2016 - 10:00

A six-week public consultation process has begun today for the updated clinical guidelines for cervical screening in New Zealand.

‘The clinical guidelines provide high-level direction to clinicians caring for women on the cervical screening pathway, and are being updated to align with the move to human papillomavirus (HPV) primary testing in 2018,’ Clinical Director of the National Screening Unit, Dr Jane O’Hallahan says.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Health announced that the age women begin having cervical screening will change from 20 to 25 due to harms outweighing benefits of screening younger women. This will occur in 2018 at the same time as New Zealand changes its primary test for cervical screening from three-yearly cytology, which detects whether women have cell changes that could lead to cancer, to HPV screening every five years.

‘New Zealand’s screening programme is recognised as one of the most successful in the world and these new guidelines demonstrate our ability to continually evolve as new evidence emerges,’ Dr O’Hallahan says.

‘The guidelines have been developed by a group of pathologists, gynaecologic oncologists, and colposcopists, working closely with their Australian colleagues to learn from their recent transition to HPV primary screening.

‘Finalising these guidelines is critical to progressing with the implementation of HPV primary screening in 2018. Modelling work to predict future work volumes for laboratories, colposcopy clinics, and development of the programme register cannot progress without the confirmation of the updated screening pathway.

‘While the primary audience interested in these guidelines will be clinicians, feedback from the general public and stakeholder groups is also welcome.’

Consultation closes on Friday 28 October. The draft guidelines can be found at Updated Guidelines for Cervical Screening in New Zealand.

The finalised new guidelines are expected to be available by the end of this year.

Media contact: Rachael Bruce 021 705 469

Page last updated: 16 September 2016