Family Planning - Smears

Why are cervical screening tests advised?

Women are routinely invited to have cervical screening tests (smear tests). The tests are done to prevent cervical cancer, not to diagnose cancer. During each test some cells are removed from the cervix, with a plastic brush. The cells are examined under a microscope to look for early changes that, if ignored and not treated, could develop into cancer of the cervix.

In most women the cells that are taken are found to be normal. Abnormal cells are found in some women. An abnormal result does not mean cancer in the vast majority of cases. Abnormal cells indicate that cancer may develop sometime in the future. About 1 woman in 20 will have an abnormal result that requires further testing or treatment. Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer. Treatment can be given to prevent cancer from developing in women with abnormal cells.

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme invites all women for regular tests automatically.

  • First invitation for screening in England and Northern Ireland is at age 25.
  • Routine recall (repeat screening test):
  •     Age 25 years: first invitation to cervical screening in England and Northern Ireland.
  •     Age 25-49 years: cervical screening tests are every three years.
  •     Age 50-64 years: cervical screening tests are every five years.
  •     Age 65 years: routine cervical screening ceases.

Women over 65 years of age should be screened if:

  • They have not had a cervical screening test since the age of 50.
  • A recent cervical screening test has been abnormal.
  • Why is the cervical screening test important?

Why is the cervical screening test important?

Cervical cancer is not uncommon. In recent years the number of cases has fallen due to cervical screening tests. However, there are still over 2,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year in the UK. Most of these occur in women who have never had a screening test, or who have not had one for many years. Cervical cancer can be prevented if you have regular screening tests. It is estimated that up to 3,900 women are prevented from developing cervical cancer every year in the UK, due to cervical screening.

Where do I go for a cervical screening test?

You can have your cervical screening done at Lion Health if you are a registered patient. It is usually done by the practice nurse but can also be done by a doctor. Please book into a LADIES CLINIC for this to be done. Lion heath offers a variety of appointments throughout the week to suit all patients

A copy of the result is usually sent to you, your GP and the health authority. This takes about two weeks. Ask at your GP surgery for the result of the test if you do not receive it.

The Results

Normal result

  • About 9 in 10 routine cervical screening tests are normal. You will be sent a letter inviting you for another one after 3-5 years, depending on your age. A normal result means you have a very low chance of developing cervical cancer. It is not a guarantee that cervical cancer will not occur.

Inadequate test

  • About 2 tests in every 100 are inadequate and need to be repeated. Inadequate simply means no result can be given, as not enough cervical cells were present for examination under the microscope. It is likely you will be called back for a repeat test in 3 months time.

Abnormal result

  • About 1 in 20 tests is reported as abnormal. There is a range of changes that may occur. In nearly all cases, these changes do not mean cancer.
  • It is likely you will be sent an appointment to see a specialist nurse or gynaecologist in the colposcopy unit where they will have a closer look at the cervix to ensure no further tests or treatment is needed.

We strongly recommend you attend for screening when called and if you have any questions or concerns about this test please speak to one of our doctors or nurses about it.

We hold regular smear clinics by our nursing team during normal surgery hours. We do also offer some evening appointments for smear tests, please ask the receptionist for details. When making the appointment mention to the receptionist that the appointment is for a smear.