Cervical screening - NHS

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What is cervical screening? - Cervical screening

  • Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.
  • It's not a test for cancer, it's a test to help prevent cancer.
  • All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter.
  • During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.
  • The sample is checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called "high risk" types of HPV.
  • If these types of HPV are not found, you do not need any further tests.
  • If these types of HPV are found, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
  • You'll get your results by letter, usually in about 2 weeks. It will explain what happens next.

Coronavirus update

Invitations for cervical screening are now being sent out.

Contact your GP surgery online or by phone if you think you are due to have cervical screening but have not been sent an invite.

It’s important to go to your appointment unless you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus. All NHS services are making sure it's safe for you to attend.

Video: how cervical screening is done

Describes the process of cervical screening and how it's done

Media last reviewed: 8 February 2019
Media review due: 8 February 2021

Important

Try not to put off cervical screening. It's one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.

Page last reviewed: 31 March 2020
Next review due: 31 March 2023