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Smear tests (cervical screening)

We no longer provide routine smear testing (cervical screening).

All women who are registered with a GP are invited for smear tests:

  • Aged 25 to 49 – invited every three years
  • Aged 50 to 64 – invited every five years
  • Over 65 - only women who haven't been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests

Your letter will ask you to contact your GP to make an appointment for your routine smear test.

About your smear test

Having your regular smear test (also known as cervical screening) is a very important part of being a woman. Some women may feel anxious or embarrassed about having a smear test, but the aim of a smear test is to detect abnormal cells on the cervix (the entrance to the womb), which could lead to cervical cancer.

A smear test isn't a test for cancer, it's a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women's test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

Most of these changes won't 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 removed so they can't become cancerous.

About 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.

It's possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, although the condition mainly affects sexually active women aged 30 to 45. The condition is very rare in women under 25.

Read more about your appointment.