Cervical Screening

The best way to protect yourself from cervical cancer is to attend your cervical screening (smear test) when invited.  The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites all women from the age of 25 to 64 to attend cervical screening. Women aged 25 to 49 are offered screening every 3 years and those aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every 5 years.


How cervical screening helps prevent cancer
Cervical screening checks for:
  • abnormal cell changes in your cervix – left untreated, this could turn into cancer
  • HPV – some types of HPV can lead to cell changes in your cervix and cancer
What is HPV?
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name for a very common group of viruses.  You can get it from any kind of skin-to-skin contact of the genital area, not just from penetrative sex.  Most people will get some type of HPV during their lives.  Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by infection with certain types of HPV.  For more info on HPV, click here. If you have had the HPV vaccine, the programme began in 2008, you still need to attend for cervical screening as the HPV vaccine does not protect from all types of HPV, so you’re still at risk of cervical cancer.
Read more about the success of the vaccine here (27 June 2019)
Signs & Symptoms
See your GP if you’re worried about signs and symptoms such as:
  • bleeding between periods, during or after sex, or after you have been through the menopause
  • unusual vaginal discharge
Do not wait for your next cervical screening appointment.
Help and support
Support for people with a learning disability
Visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust for:
Support for LGBT people
Support for people with vulval pain
Support after sexual violence
If you have experienced sexual violence, you may find the idea of cervical screening very difficult.
My Body Back gives support after sexual violence by running:
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has information, advice and support about cervical screening after sexual violence.
Want to know what to expect during your cervical screening (smear test)?  We have produced a short video walking you through an appointment with a nurse at a local GP Practice.

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