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What is cervical screening? - Cervical screening

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

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