Cervical Screening

Cervical screening is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer.

  • Anyone with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64 should be invited for a screen
  • Cervical screening checks the cervix for a virus known as HPV, which is known to cause cervical cancer
Cervical screening

What is HPV and cervical cancer?

Your cervix is located at the neck of the womb. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a very common virus that is linked with cancer of the cervix.

  • Cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer in women under 35
  • HPV is very common – High-risk HPV is different to low-risk HPV (which may cause genital warts). Low-risk HPV is not linked to cancer
  • You can lower your risk of cervical cancer by:
    • Attending screening appointment
    • Stopping smoking
    • Having the HPV vaccination, if you are eligible
    • Safer sex (remember, HPV can be passed on through any sexual contact with men or women)

Are there any symptoms I should look out for?

  • Unusual bleeding (such as bleeding between periods or bleeding after sex)
  • Unusual discharge, including blood-stained or smelly discharge
  • Pain or discomfort during sex

Many women with early stages of cervical cancer do not have any symptoms – it is therefore important to continue to attend your screening appointments, even if you do not have symptoms.

What is screening?

Your cervix is located at the neck of the womb. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a very common virus that is linked with cancer of the cervix.

  • Cervical screening is offered to anyone with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64
  • Cervical screening uses a small brush to check the neck of your womb (cervix) for high-risk HPV. There may be a little discomfort but the procedure is very quick
  • How often you are invited depends on your age and any previous results:
AgeWhen you’re invited
Under 25Up to 6 months before you turn 25
25-49Every 3 years
50-64Every 5 years
65 or olderOnly if 1 of your last 3 tests was abnormal

*You may be called sooner if you are told that your screening result was abnormal or showed high-risk HPV

  • You can book your appointment with one of our nurses or book into our CASH clinic (held on a Wednesday pm). It is usually best to wait until after your period has finished to ensure that the test does not need to be repeated. However, please do not delay or cancel your appointment if you are bleeding or if your period starts.
  • It is normal to experience some slight spotting afterwards
  • You should receive your results within 6 weeks. If you do not hear after this time, please contact the surgery.

I have been told that I have HPV/cervical cancer and would like further information

You should receive your results via letter within 6 weeks

Your letter should explain whether what your test showed. If you have been told that you have HPV, your letter should explain either of the following:

HPV found but no abnormal cellsScreen will be repeated again in 1 year
HPV found and abnormal cellsYou will be referred for a colposcopy to look closer at your cervix
*A colposcopy is very similar to your screening test, but it’s done in hospital

If you have any questions about your results or if you are worried and would like to discuss it further, please book an appointment with one of our nurse practitioners or GPs.

Remember that screening aims to pick up any worrying changes early. The earlier abnormal cells are diagnosed, the easier it is to treat.

You may find some of the below information helpful

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust: For more information and support on cervical screening and cervical cancer diagnosis – Offers helplines, forums and 1:1 supporthttps://www.jostrust.org.uk/
The LGBT Foundation offers information and support about cervical screeninghttp://www.lgbt.foundation/screening
NHS website: For further information on cervical screeninghttps://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/