The NHS Cervical Screening Programme has made a significant impact on cervical cancer mortality since it was established in 1988, saving an estimated 5,000 lives a year.
However, coverage is at a 20-year low. Figures published by NHS Digital show that, at 31 March 2018, the percentage of eligible women (aged 25 to 64) screened adequately was 71.4%, with coverage at its lowest amongst those aged 25 – 35.
Cervical Screening, or a smear test, is a test or all women aged 25 to 64 to help prevent cancer. During the procedure, a sample of a few cells will be taken from your cervix and checked for abnormalities. This means that any abnormalities found can be monitored and treated early to prevent the development of cancer.
Anybody who has a cervix and has had any kind or sexual contact is at risk of cerivical cancer, and should have a smear test.
· you have had the HPV vaccine
· you have only had one sexual partner
· you have not had sex in a long time
· or you have had a hysterectomy
You can still be at risk of cervical cancer; therefore it is important that you go for your smear test as it is one of the best ways to protect you from cervical cancer.
You should have received an invitation to attend your cervical screening. It is ideal to book in with the surgery as soon as possible after receiving this invitation, or if you missed your last screening you need not wait for another invitation. Just phone the surgery or drop in at reception to make an appointment.
It is best to go for your cervical screening when you're not on your period, ideally trying to avoid the 2 days before or after you bleed (if you do not have periods, you can book any time).
Additionally, it should be after you have finished any treatment for unusual vaginal discharge or a pelvic infection which you may have been undergoing.