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

The test – which takes no more than 10 minutes – checks the health of your cervix and looks for cells that could cause cancer.

Why it’s important

Since the early 1990s, the rate of cervical cancer in the UK has decreased greatly, but in the last decade it has begun to rise again.

Around 3,200 women develop cervical cancer every year, yet 99.8% of those cases are preventable.

Despite cancer cases going up, nearly all of which could be avoided, only 71% of women regularly attend their screenings. That’s the lowest rate for 20 years.

Coming in for a screening

If you’re over 25 you’ll be invited to a screening every three years, then every 5 years after you turn 50. Once you’re 65 you’ll only need to be screened again if one of your previous 3 test results was unusual. You’ll get a letter in advance asking you to book a time and date.

Most screenings happen in GP surgeries or sexual health clinics, and are carried out by female Doctors or Nurses. They’ll give you privacy and make sure you’re comfortable, but you are in control and can ask them to stop at any time.

You can bring someone with you for support, or something to read or listen to. Your comfort is important.

The NHS website can walk you through the screening process, from how to book through to results and follow up. 

Nearly all cases of cervical cancer can be avoided, and screening is one of the most effective ways to prevent it. When you get your invitation, please don’t ignore it.


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