You can book an appointment with the practice nurse to have cervical screening. Read below for further information about this test.
The aim of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme is to reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and the number of women who die from the condition. Since the screening programme was introduced in the 1980s, the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year.
All women aged between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening. Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited for testing every three years, and women aged between 50 and 64 are invited every five years.
Being screened regularly means that any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.
It is estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers.
The cervical screening test
The cervical screening test usually takes around five minutes to carry out. An instrument called a speculum will be gently inserted into your vagina to hold the walls of your vagina open so that your cervix is visible. A small soft brush will be used to take some cells from the surface of your cervix.
The sample of cervical cells will then be sent to a laboratory and examined under a microscope to see whether there are any abnormal cells.
Some women may find the procedure a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing, but for most women it is not painful.
If the test picks up abnormalities in the cells in your cervix, it may be recommended that you have treatment to remove them, or further tests in a few months to see if they return to normal on their own.
You shouldn’t have a cervical screening test during your period, so try to arrange an appointment before or after your period is due. The middle of your cycle is the best time to have the test (usually 14 days from the start of your last period).