Why do we test?
Cervical Screening (a smear test) checks the health of cervix (the opening to your womb). It is NOT a test for cancer. It helps prevent cancer.
Who is invited?
All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64.
What happens at the appointment?
During cervical screening a small sample of cells is taken from your cervix for testing.
The test itself should take less than 5 minutes. the whole appointment should take about 10 minutes and is usually done by a female nurse or doctor.
You may have some spotting or light bleeding after your cervical screening test, this is very common and should go away after a few hours.
Your cervical screening results are usually sent to you in a letter. Sometimes you may be asked to call your GP to get the results.
Your results letter will explain what was tested for and what your results mean. Sometimes you'll be asked to come back in 3 months to have the test again. This does not mean there is anything wrong, its because the results were unclear. this is sometimes called an inadequate result.
Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is NOT found in your sample
Most people will not have HPV (An HPV NEGATIVE result).
This means your risk of getting cervical cancer is very low. You do not need any further tests to check for abnormal cervical cells, even if you have had these in the past.
You'll be invited for screening again in 3 or 5 years.
HPV IS found in your sample
Your results letter will explain what will happen next if HPV is found in your sample (an HPV positive result).
You may need:
- Another cervical screening test in 1 year
- a different test to look at your cervix - A colposcopy
There are 2 different kinds of HPV positive result:
- HPV Found but NO abnormal cells:
- You'll be invited for screening in 1 year and again in 2 years if you still have HPV. If you still have HPV after 3 years, you may need to have a colposcopy.
- HPV Found with abnormal cells:
- You'll be asked to have a colposcopy
If you need a colposcopy
A colposcopy is a simple procedure to look at your cervix. It's similar to having cervical screening, but it's done in hospital. You might need a colposcopy if your results show changes to the cells of your cervix.
Further information and support regarding cervical screening: