Cervical cancer is caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that can be detected using Cervical Screening. Cervical Screening is a test that is needed less frequently than a Pap Smear and is considered to be more effective. The cervical screening test will detect HPV before abnormal cell changes occur. This offers the best chance of detecting cervical changes early and helping to prevent cervical cancer.
Cervical testing is also a great opportunity for women to also have a sexual health screen, which can detect infections that can permanently affect fertility. The test will be available for women aged 25 upwards and women will be screened every 5 years if tests are negative. If HPV testing is positive, the cells from the cervix will be looked at to decide what follow up needs to occur.
Pap Smears every 2 years remain the best protection against cervical cancer.
- The time between tests has changed from two to five years.
- The age at which screening starts has increased from 18 years to 25 years.
- Women aged 70 to 74 years will be invited to have an exit test.
- Women will be invited when they are due to participate via the National Cancer Screening Register.
Women of any age who have symptoms such as unusual bleeding, discharge and pain should see their health care professional immediately.
Women who have been vaccinated against HPV (those that have received Gardisil or Cervarix vaccines) still require cervical screening as the HPV vaccine does not protect against all the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
If you have any questions about these changes or when your next test is due, please make an appointment with your GP or Registered Nurse.