This study will assess the effectiveness of the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) for Indigenous women compared with other Australian women, and investigate trends in cervical cancer incidence and survival for Indigenous women.

Through national de-identified linked data from the Pap Test Registers (PTRs), Cancer Registers and hospital inpatient datasets in each state and territory, we will investigate for Indigenous women (compared with other Australian women):

  • their participation in cervical screening
  • the prevalence of abnormal Pap test results in screened women
  • the timeliness of investigation after a high-grade abnormal (HGA) Pap test
  • the influence of remoteness of residence, socio-economic disadvantage, and access to culturally appropriate primary care on screening participation, prevalence of abnormal results and investigation after a HGA Pap test
  • time trends in cervical cancer incidence rates and survival rates
  • the contribution of higher chronic disease prevalence to Indigenous women’s lower cervical screening participation rates and lower cervical cancer survival rates. 
  • To investigate cervical screening participation, abnormalities and outcomes for Indigenous women, using national screening program performance indicators.

Cervical cancer has a much greater impact on Indigenous women than other Australian women.

Cervical cancer incidence is approximately three times greater for Indigenous than non-Indigenous women and mortality approximately five times greater.

Australia has had a nationally coordinated approach to cervical screening, the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) since the early 1990s, including Pap Test Registers (PTR) that provide data to monitor and evaluate cervical screening.

However, the registers do not record Indigenous status and consequently, no data on cervical screening for Indigenous women are available.. It is not known whether screening participation rates for Indigenous women are improving over time, are higher in urban and remote areas or vary between states and territories; nor is it known whether Indigenous women with abnormal Pap tests receive adequate and timely follow-up and treatment.

Our research has found:

This project is still in progress.

Project manager:
  • Dr Suzanne Moore
Contact information:
Project dates:

The project is scheduled to run from 2012 - 2016.

  • Cancer Council QLD
  • Cancer Council NSW
  • University of Queensland 
  • National Health
  • Medical Research Council
  • Cancer Council NSW
Key staff:

Chief and associate investigators:

Post-doctoral fellows, students, staff, database developers and managers:

  1. Whop, L.J., Cunningham, J., & Condon, J.R. (2014). How well is the National Cervical Screening Program performing for Indigenous Australian women? Why we don’t really know, and what we can and should do about it. European Journal of Cancer Care, 23(6), 716-720.