Cervical screening, or the “smear test”, is a routine health check that identifies potentially harmful cells and changes on the cervix.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer but catching any changes early can reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer. Cervical cancer
kills two women every day. Regular screenings can help reduce that number, which is why it’s so important you attend your screening
Cervical screening lasts about five minutes, and you only have to go once every three or five years depending on your age.
It’s five minutes that could save your life.
Who is the screening for?
If you are a woman, or someone with a cervix, you will be invited for cervical screening at regular intervals:
If you’re aged 25-49, you’ll be invited every 3 years
If you’re aged 50-64, you’ll be invited every 5 years.
If you’re due to have a cervical screening, you’ll receive a letter in the post. Don’t ignore it, book your cervical screening today.
If you missed your last cervical screening, book an appointment with your GP practice now.
Your nurse is there to answer any questions or concerns you may have before your appointment, so please talk to them if you’re feeling nervous. There are also a range of things you can do to put yourself at ease during your screening:
• If you’d like, you can take a trusted friend or family member with you
• Wear a long, loose dress or skirt. It may make you feel more covered during your screening
• Take long, deep breaths to help you relax
• Listen to a podcast or some music during your screening to put you at ease
• Speculums come in a range of different sizes. It is a rounded cylinder which is gently opened so nurses can see your cervix. You may want to discuss the size of the speculum with the nurse before you have the test.
For tips on how to make cervical screening more comfortable, visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalscreening
Facts and statistics
- Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in England
- Two women die every day from cervical cancer in England
- Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women under the age of 35
- If everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer deaths could be prevented
- One in four eligible women do not take up their cervical screening invitation in the UK