Cervical Cancer Screening

Women laughing

Don't Fear the Smear it could Save Your Life

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme (also called HPV screening, cervical cytology or "smear test") checks the health of your cervix.  The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.  The main test is for the presence of human papilloma virus (HPV), some strains of which are associated with cervical cancer. 

It's not a test for cancer, it's a test to help prevent cancer.

All people with a cervix, who are aged 25 to 64 should have the test done.  For those aged 25 to 50y it is every 3 years, whilst for those aged 50 to 64y it is every 5 years.


More information can be found here:

Public Health England's leaflet on NHS Cervical Screening Programme

NHS website's page on Cervical Screening

Worried about having the test done?

We know that a lot of people put off having the screening done because they are anxious about the appointment.  

Our nurses are very experienced and will do their best to put you at ease.

If you have particular concerns or just want to chat about it first, please feel free to call the surgery and ask to speak to one of the nurses.  If you already know a particular nurse you can ask for them if you like.  

Alternatively you can contact us at cpicb.HuntingdonRoadSurgery@nhs.net and we will call you back.  (Please do not use this email to contact us about anything urgent).

On the day of your appointment you are welcome to bring someone with you, or to ask for a chaperone if you would like one.

See the NHS cervical cancer screening website for a short video on how the test is done.

Will I be reminded / invited?

Patients who have been living in the UK

Patients who have lived in the UK (and been registered with a GP) for over a year will automatically be invited for a test when it is due.

The invitations are sent automatically by the Health Authority and are sent to the address we have on record for you.  Make sure you keep your contact details up to date. 

Sometimes if you change address just as the invitations are sent out, you may find that the invitation letter was sent to your previous address.  If you think this might be you, please contact us.

Unfortunately we are not able to do the test unless you have been sent an invitation letter.

If you think you might have missed your invitation, please contact us as we can arrange for another invitation to be sent out to you. 

Patients turning 25y need to wait for their letter from the Health Authority before contacting us, and to book an appointment which will be after their 25th birthday.


Patients who have recently moved to the UK

It takes time for patients who have just moved to the UK to be registered for this screening programme.  All patients are automatically included.  You do not need to take any action, simply wait for your invitation letter to arrive and then contact us to arrange the appointment.  

Unfortunately we have noticed that some patients have to wait several months before their invitation letters are sent to them by the Health Authority.  

Sadly we are not able to do the test unless you have been sent an invitation letter.

Had tests done abroad?

The NHS cervical screening programme does not accept tests done abroad.  This is because the NHS cannot be sure of the quality of the screening tests done elsewhere.  We recommend that all eligible patients have a test done again, under the NHS. 

We can only do the test once you have been invited by the Health Authority (see above).  The NHS cannot do the test earlier, even if your doctor abroad has advised you to have a sooner test.

If you have been having tests done abroad and want to continue with the screening programme abroad, and not to take part in the NHS cervical screening programme (N.B. this is NOT recommended), please let us know at cpicb.HuntingdonRoadSurgery@nhs.net   (Please do not use this email for anything urgent.)

All eligible patients either need to have a test done under the NHS or to confirm in writing that they do not wish to take part.