Cervical screening, or smear test, is a method of detecting abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in the cervix in order to prevent cervical cancer. The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina. Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for 1 in 20 women the test will show some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be treated to prevent them becoming cancerous.
All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening:
- If you are aged 25-49 – invited every 3 years
- If you are aged 50-64 – invited every 5 years
- If you are over 65 – only women invited are those who have recently had abnormal tests
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, it is a test to help prevent cancer.