Health Minister Peter Dutton will consider the recommendations and consult with state and territory governments and other experts.

Health Minister Peter Dutton will consider the recommendations and consult with state and territory governments and other experts.

Women would have their first screening for cervical cancer at 25 and would be tested only every five years under dramatic changes recommended by the Australian government's expert advisory committee on medical procedures.

The Medical Services Advisory Committee has recommended a new test for human papillomavirus, or HPV, replace Pap smears from 2016.

The procedure for collecting the sample for HPV testing would be the same as the procedure for having a Pap smear, the federal health department said in a statement on Monday.

A doctor or nurse would take a small sample of cells from the woman's cervix to send to a laboratory for examination. The new test would be undertaken every five years. Currently women undertake Pap smears every two to three years.

The committee recommended screening should start when a woman was 25. Currently, it is recommended that women have their first Pap smear between the ages of 18 and 20.

Under the proposed new system, women would have an exit test between the ages of 70 and 74. Women with symptoms including pain and bleeding could have a cervical test at any age.

"The independent expert committee accepted the latest scientific evidence that shows this new screening approach will work even better by detecting human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, which we now know to be the first step in developing cervical cancer," the statement from the health department said.

"MSAC found that a HPV test every five years is even more effective than, and just as safe as, screening with a Pap test every two years. MSAC also determined that a HPV test every five years can save more lives and women will need fewer tests than in the current two yearly Pap test program."

Women vaccinated against HPV will still require cervical screening as the HPV vaccine does not protect against all the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.

Health Minister Peter Dutton will consider the recommendations and consult with state and territory governments and other experts.

The department said women should continue to have two-yearly Pap tests, which it said had halved the incidence and mortality of cervical cancer over the past 22 years.

If adopted, the recommendations would not be implemented until 2016.

About 734 Australian women, or about seven women in every 100,000, are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Cervical cancer accounts for about 1.7 per cent of all cancers in Australian women and about 1.3 per cent of all cancer deaths in Australian women, according to Cancer Australia.

Last year, when a paper from the committee raised the option of delaying the first test until 25 and making testing less frequent, the Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation said such a change could put at risk the lives of women who developed cervical cancer before 25.

But the foundation's chief executive Joe Tooma said on Monday it was convinced the proposed new screening program would not place women at increased risk. 

While current guidelines recommend testing until a woman is 70, the committee has recommended the introduction of "exit testing" for women up to 74 years of age, to assess and manage women at very low risk of disease with a view to discharging them from screening.

Cancer Council Australia chief executive Ian Olver welcomed the recommendations, saying evidence showed a new HPV test every five years would be more effective than the Pap test and just as safe.

“The Pap test based screening program has been a great public health success story since its introduction in 1991 and is the main reason cervical cancer mortality rates in Australia are among the world’s lowest,” Professor Olver said.

“However, with the introduction of the HPV vaccine in 2007 and enhancements in testing technology, Australia is in a position to introduce an even more effective approach that is just as safe as the Pap test."

Professor Olver said in its first 10 years, the Pap test based program reduced deaths from cervical cancer by 50 per cent. The HPV test is predicted to reduce mortality by a further 15 per cent.