What is cervical screening?

The cervical screening test (smear test) is designed to check cells from your cervix (neck of the womb) for any changes so that they can be monitored or treated. Without treatment these changes can sometimes develop into cervical cancer.

Cervical screening can stop cervical cancer before it starts. Don't ignore your next smear invite. And, if you missed your last smear test, contact the practice to find a time that suits you.

Cervical screening is routinely offered every three years to women aged between 25 and 49 and every five years to women aged between 50 and 64. Women on non-routine screening (where screening results have shown changes that require further investigation or follow-up) will be invited up to the age of 70.

HPV vaccine

In Scotland, all girls in their second year of secondary school (S2) are routinely invited to get the HPV vaccine between 11 and 13 years of age. The vaccine is designed to protect against the two types of HPV that cause 75% of cases of cervical cancer. But it doesn't protect against all other types, so regular cervical screening is important.

Key facts

  • Six women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every week in Scotland
  • Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 25 to 35 in Scotland
  • Cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives in the UK every year
  • Cervical screening prevents 8 out of 10 cervical cancers from developing
  • Eligible women are sent an invitation letter to their home with an information leaflet and asked to make an appointment at their local GP or clinic

Posted: 6 February 2019

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