Cervical Screening

About cervical screening

Cervical screening, also known as a smear test, looks for changes to the cells of your cervix. It is a routine health check and not a test for cancer. It is used to prevent cancer by detecting changes before they can turn into cancer. Cervical screening is available to anyone with a cervix, who is between the ages of 25 and 64 and registered with a GP surgery.

During your appointment, a small sample of cells is taken from your cervix. The test itself should take less than 5 minutes and the whole appointment should take around 10 minutes. For more information about the appointment, please click here: What happens at your appointment

When will you be invited?

You should receive a letter from your GP surgery, inviting you to attend for a cervical screening test.

  • Under 25 – Up to 6 months before you turn 25
  • 25 to 49 – Every 3 years
  • 50 to 64 – Every 5 years
  • 65 & over – Only if 1 of your last 3 tests was abnormal

How cervical screening helps prevent cancer

Cervical screening checks a sample of cells from your cervix for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). These types of HPV can cause abnormal changes to the cells in your cervix and are called “high-risk” types of HPV. If these types of HPV are found during screening (an HPV positive result), the sample of cells is then checked for abnormal changes. If abnormal cells are not treated, they may turn into cervical cancer.

What is HPV?

HPV is a common group of viruses. Most people will get some type of HPV during their lines and it is very common. You can get HPV through any kind of skin-to-skin contact. Some types of HPV (“high-risk”) can cause cervical cancer. In most cases, your body will get rid of HPV without it causing any problems. However, sometimes HPV can stay in your body for a long time.

Frequent non-attenders include:

  • Younger eligible women 25-29
  • Women over 50
  • Ethnic minorities
  • People from lower socio-economic groups
  • Women with learning disabilities
  • Lesbian and bisexual women

Many women do not attend because:

  • They are embarrassed to have the test
  • They are worried about the result
  • They are concerned about the procedure and whether it will be painful
  • Access to screening and appointment times are inconvenient
  • They do not think they are at risk
  • They are simply unaware of screening

Tips for your CST:

  • Ask to book a longer appointment – more time to ask questions and feel ready for your smear test.
  • Ask for a smaller speculum – a smaller size may be more comfortable.
  • Wear a skirt or dress – you can keep it on during your smear test.
  • Talk to your nurse – if you need any support or have questions, your nurse can help.

What do your results mean?

You should get your cervical screening results within 4 weeks of your test. You will usually receive these results via letter, however if your sample needs further investigation, you may be contacted by the hospital.

What does this mean?

You do not have high-risk HPV.

Next steps

You will be invited for your next cervical screening test in 3-5 years (depending on your age).

What does this mean?

You have high-risk HPV, but you do not have changes to your cervical cells.

Next steps

You will be invited for your next cervical screening test in 1 year to check the HPV is gone. If you get this result 3 times in a row, you will be invited to colposcopy for more tests.

More about HPV
What does this mean?

You have high-risk HPV and cervical cell changes.

Next steps

You will be invited to colposcopy for further tests.

More about colposcopy

HPV Vaccination

If you are aged between 11 and 18, you can reduce the risk of cervical cancer by receiving the HPV vaccine to help protect against cervical cancer.

This vaccine is now available to girls and boys and it’s important that you have both doses of the vaccine to be fully protected. Find out more about the recent changes to the HPV vaccine under the NHS vaccination schedule here. If you missed the vaccination at school, you are eligible to be vaccinated until you are 25 years old. (Those who start the HPV vaccination after the age of 15 will need 3 doses).

There are lots of ways in which you can help and support the fight against cervical cancer. You can reduce your own risk, the risk to others and ensure that you’re aware of the symptoms of cervical cancer. Attending your smear test is important and the more people that attend, the more lives that can be saved.

If you have received a #SmearTest reminder or if you think you should be due one and have not received a letter, please contact your GP practice and arrange an appointment at your earliest convenience. Remember that the appointment only lasts for 10 minutes and The Roxton Practice run over 3 different sites in Immingham, Keelby and Grimsby.

Don’t ignore your cervical screening invite!

Book now!