About Cervical Screening

Women smiling

Cervical cancer is cancer of the cervix. Almost all cases are caused by a virus called human papilomavirus (HPV). This is a very common virus that most people will have at some time during their life.

Only certain types of HPV cause cervical cancer. Your screening test will look for high-risk types of HPV. By finding cell changes early, screening can prevent cervical cancer from developing. 

The cervical screening test only takes about five minutes. It is usually carried out by a nurse in a private room. Here's the process:

  • You will be asked to undress from your waist down. It may be easier to wear a skirt or dress.
  • You will need to lie on your back on a couch with your knees bent and your legs bent and your legs open.
  • The nurse will gently put a speculum (medical instrument) into your vagina so they can see your cervix.
  • The nurse will then gently brush cells from the cervix using a soft brush.
  • The cells will be tested. If high-risk HPV is found, the sample will be looked at for cell changes.

Remember: You can take somebody with your for support if you wish. Talk to your practice nurse if you have any concerns.


You will receive your results letter in the post within four weeks. Your results will also be sent to your doctor. Find out more about the results.