The Compass Trial – A Better Test for Cervical Cancer

Compass trial blogMore than 50,000 Victorian women have signed up to take part in Australia’s largest ever clinical trial aimed at improving our understanding of the impact of new cancer screening technologies.  Timboon and District Healthcare Service is supporting this trial by offering women the chance to become involved and assist the future of cervical cancer screening in Australia.

Cervical cancer is caused by certain strains of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).

Overseas research has shown that screening for this virus is more accurate than the traditional Pap smear for determining a women’s future risk of developing cervical cancer.  The Compass Trial will confirm if this is the case for Australian women. It is a major multi-centre trial being conducted by Victorian Cytology Services (VCS) and Cancer Council NSW and will involve the recruitment of more than 120,000 women.

Women aged between 25 and 36 years of age (born on or after 1 July 1980) attending Timboon and District Healthcare Service for their routine Pap smears will be asked to participate in the trial.

The test is taken in the same way as the traditional Pap smear but once it reaches the laboratory (VCS) it is randomised into one of two groups.  One group will be tested in the traditional way (looking at the cells), and the other will be tested for the presence of the virus, HPV.

In the first group if the test is negative (no abnormal cells seen) women will be asked to come back for a repeat test in two and a half years, instead of the current two years.

If the woman is assigned to the second group and her HPV test is negative she will not need another test for 5 years.

Participation in the trial is voluntary and women are able to take part if they are an Australian resident, aged 25 to 36 years (born on or after 1 July 1980), and attending for a routine Pap smear.

More information can be found at


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