Cervical Screening (Smear Test)
A cervical screening test (previously known as a smear test) is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix. The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina. Detecting and removing abnormal cervical cells can prevent cervical cancer.
Many women will attend regularly for their test, but for some it can be a real concern or even a source of embarrassment. This section provides information about the procedure and some supportive other links to help you to decide.
Most importantly, please contact our nurse team on 01425 653430 if you are due your cervical screening test but are worried or embarrassed about it.
Results may take a little longer due to short-term shortage in the supply of reagents for the testing process. Please contact the Practice if you have not received anything within 6 weeks. This delay is unlikely to cause or increase the risk of clinical harm. Cervical cancer takes many years to develop in most cases.
Why it's offered?
Cervical screening is offered because it can detect abnormal cell changes in the cervix (the entrance to the womb from the vagina) that could potentially develop into cervical cancer.
Abnormal cells found during cervical screening often return to normal on their own, so waiting may be recommended. If more significant abnormalities are detected at an early stage, there's the option of having treatment to remove them before they have a chance to become cancerous.
Since the screening programme was introduced in the 1980s, the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year.
It's estimated at least 2,000 cases of cervical cancer are prevented each year in the UK because of cervical screening.
When its offered?
Women aged 25 to 64 who are registered with a GP are automatically invited for cervical screening. This includes women who have had the HPV vaccination, as the vaccine doesn't protect against all types of HPV linked to cervical cancer so it doesn't guarantee complete protection against cervical cancer.
Women registered with a GP will receive a letter inviting them to make an appointment, along with further information about cervical screening. The letters should be sent out to women:
- aged 25 to 49 – every 3 years
- aged 50 to 64 – every 5 years
- over 65 – only women who have recently had abnormal tests results
The results of your screening test will be sent to you in the post, with a copy sent to your GP.
Before you leave your screening, ask when your results are expected and how you'll receive them. In some cases, you may need to contact your GP or clinic to get your results.
The Cervical Screening Programme aims to notify people of their results within 14 days. Sometimes results may take longer. If your results haven't arrived within the time you were advised, you need to contact the GP practice where you were screened and ask them to follow up the results for you.
What is the procedure?
If you feel worried about going for cervical screening (a smear test), you are not alone. It may help to know as much as possible about what going for cervical screening is like. Ask someone you trust about their experience, speak with your doctor or nurse, or call the Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust Helpline on 0808 802 8000 for more support.
This video explains the procedure in more detail - please click on the videos below for more information:
Further Information and Links
There is a lot of really helpful information about cervical cytology screening at the following links:
- General Information: NHS Choices Information and Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust
- Information leaflet: Helping You Decide Leaflet
- Easy Read Leaflet: Easy Read Leaflet
Please contact the Practice if you wish to discuss any aspect of the procedure or if you have any questions however small!