Cervical screening

Coranavirus update

Invitations for cervical screening are now being sent out.

Contact your GP surgery online or by phone if you think you are due to have cervical screening but have not been sent an invite.

It’s important to go to your appointment unless you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus. All NHS services are making sure it's safe for you to attend.

Who is it for?

The NHS cervical screening programme invites women aged between 25 and 64 for cervical screening. Screening also applies to other people within this age range who have a cervix, such as trans men.   It is estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers.

  • It’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer.
  • Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.
  • Finding abnormal changes early means they can be monitored or treated so they do not get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.

How cervical screening prevents cancer

Cervical screening may check for:

  • abnormal cell changes in your cervix – left untreated, this could turn into cancer
  • HPV – some types of HPV can lead to cell changes in your cervix and cancer

What is HPV?

  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the name for a very common group of viruses.
  • You can get it from any kind of skin-to-skin contact of the genital area, not just from penetrative sex.
  • Most people will get some type of HPV during their lives.
  • Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by infection with certain types of HPV.

Find out when you'll be invited for your screening

If you are aged:

  • under 25 up to 6 months before you turn 25
  • 25 to 49 every 3 years
  • 50 to 64 every 5 years
  • 65 or older only if 1 of your last 3 tests was abnormal

What happens at your appointment

  • During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.
  • The sample is tested for changes to the cells of your cervix.


Try not to put off cervical screening. It's one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.