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Cervical Screening Tests

A cervical screening test (smear test) is a method of preventing cervical cancer by detecting abnormal cells in the cervix (lower part of the womb).

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, but it is a test to check the health of the cervix. Most women’s test results show that everything is normal. But for one in 20 women, the test will show some changes in the cells of the cervix.

Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer and the cells will go back to normal on their own. In some cases, the abnormal cells need to be treated to prevent them becoming a problem later.

The Screening Programme

In the UK, cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women under 35 (after breast cancer). About 2,800 women a year are diagnosed with cervical cancer.

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme aims to reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and the number of women who die from the disease.

All women aged between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening. Being screened regularly means that any abnormal changes in the cervix can be identified early on and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.

It is estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers from developing.

Find Out More About Smear Tests

You can find out why and when you should have a smear test, how smear tests are performed, what happens when you get your results and any further treatment required, on the NHS Choices website.

View information about cervical screening tests on www.nhs.uk >

You can also find lots of useful information on the Cervical Cancer Trust website >


Important Notice

The information provided on this website (including any NHS Choices medical information) is for use as information or for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical care by a qualified doctor or other qualified healthcare professional. We do not warrant that any information included within this site will meet your health or medical requirements. This Embarrassing Bodies site does not provide any medical or diagnostic services so you should always check with a health professional if you have any concerns about your health.


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