What is cervical screening?

Cervical screening is also called the smear test.

A sample of cells is taken from the cervix using a soft brush. The sample is put into a pot of liquid and sent to the cervical screening laboratory. At the laboratory, the sample is first tested for high-risk types of  human papillomavirus (hrHPV). This is because the cell changes that lead to nearly all cases of cervical cancer are caused by hrHPV.

If high-risk HPV is not found in the sample, then the cells do not need to be looked at. This happens in nearly 9 out of every 10 samples.

If hrHPV is found in the sample, the cells are put onto a slide. The cells are then looked at under a microscope by a screener.

If the cells are normal, a repeat cervical screening test will be done after 12 months to see whether the high risk HPV is still present. If it is still there, the cells will be checked again.

If the cells show any changes, then some further investigations will be needed. (See Results)