What is the Pap Test Registry?
The Registry is a government funded organisation which compiles a confidential list of Victorian women's Pap test results. The Registry's formal name is the Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry.
Why do we have the Registry?
The Registry was established because of convincing evidence that an organised program is the most effective way to reduce cervical cancer. Through its encouragement of women to have regular Pap tests, the Registry can ensure better cervical screening for women. Through its data collection and monitoring and evaluation of the screening program, the Registry helps to improve our understanding of cancer of the cervix and its treatment.
How will the Registry help me?
There are three main benefits:
1. Reminders when tests are overdue.
In general, Pap tests are recommended every two years. The Registry will send you a reminder letter when this two year period has elapsed. The Registry is currently trialing a second reminder so if your Pap test remains overdue, a second reminder letter will be sent nine months after the first reminder is sent. You may receive an earlier reminder if you have had an abnormal test result in the past. Having regular tests is very important to prevent cancer of the cervix.
2. A safety net for important abnormalities.
Thankfully most Pap tests are normal but inevitably some abnormalities are found. The Registry provides a safety net so that important abnormalities are not overlooked. Occasionally women are not told of abnormal Pap test reports. The Registry is able to notify the doctor when an important abnormality appears to have been overlooked.
3. More accurate Pap test results.
Pap tests are reported by scientists. The accuracy is very good but cannot be 100%. Pap test reports are likely to be more accurate if they are reported in the light of previous test results. The Registry helps the scientist report your smear accurately by providing a summary of your previous test results.
How do I join the Registry?
It's easy - when you have a Pap test, your details are automatically forwarded to the Registry by the laboratory that reports on your test.
Do my results have to go to the Registry?
The choice is yours. If you do not want your results registered, tell your doctor. However, unless your results are registered, you will not receive reminder letters or follow-up advice from the Registry. Plus, the more results we have registered, the better our understanding will be, and the closer we will come to preventing cervical cancer. You can withdraw your details from the Registry at any time by making a written request to the Registry.
What information is recorded?
Your name, date of birth, address, Medicare Number, results of your Pap test and your doctor's name and address. Results of further investigations such as colposcopy, biopsy and HPV tests may be recorded as these can influence the frequency at which Pap tests are necessary.
How can I find out if I am already registered?
You can have access to your own information by contacting the Registry.
Who else has access to my information?
The Cancer Act which defines the functions of the Registry allows you, your doctor and the laboratory which reported your Pap test to have access to your details. The Act also requires the Registry to forward details of any cases of cervical cancer it is aware of to the Victorian Cancer Registry.
Who should have Pap tests?
Adult women should continue to have Pap tests every two years until the age of 70 years. Even if you no longer have periods or have not had sex for years, you should continue with regular tests. Most women who have had a hysterectomy (removal of their uterus and cervix) do not need further Pap tests. If you are unsure, check this with your doctor.
Where can I go for a Pap test?
The Registry does not make appointments or offer a service for taking Pap tests. To make an appointment contact your own doctor or Community Health Centre.
How can I update my details?
The Registry can only send you a reminder if it knows your current details. So if you change your name or address, let the Registry know - either phone us or use our online Update Your Details Form.
Do I still need a Pap test if I have had the Cervical Cancer vaccine?