Cervical screening (a smear test)

What is cervical screening?

Cervical screening is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.

Cervical screening is 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.
  • It’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer.
  • All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter.
  • During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.
  • The sample is checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called “high risk” types of HPV.
  • If these types of HPV are not found, you do not need any further tests.
  • If these types of HPV are found, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
  • You’ll get your results by letter, usually in about 2 weeks. It will explain what happens next.

You may need more help and support with cervical screening for many reasons.

Speak to the GP at our surgery if you have questions about cervical screening invitations, results or any symptoms you have.

Support for everyone

For more information and support about going for cervical screening, results and treatment, you can contact Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust by:

Support for people with a learning disability

Support for LGBT people

Support for people with vulval pain

Support after sexual violence

If you have experienced sexual violence, you may find the idea of cervical screening very difficult.

The My Body Back Project gives support after sexual violence by running:

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has information, advice and support about cervical screening after sexual violence please click here to visit

Support from the Cervical Screening Programme

You can contact the Public Health England Screening Helpdesk if you have any questions about cervical screening practice or policy (England only) by:

The PHE helpdesk does not have access to medical records and is not able to provide medical advice or screening results. Speak to our surgery for information about your cervical screening test or results.