Why is cervical screening important?

It’s your choice whether you want to go for cervical screening.

The NHS advises that cervical screening saves as many as 5,000 lives in the UK each year and is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer because it checks the health of your cervix. It isn’t a test for cancer, but a test to help prevent cancer. Finding cells early means they can be monitored or treated and do not get the chance to turn into cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer happens when cells in the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way and build up to form a lump, or tumour. As the tumour grows, cells can eventually spread to other parts of the body and become life-threatening. 

Cervical screening is offered to all women aged 25 to 49 every three years, and to all women aged 50 to 64 every five years. This is because most cervical cancers develop in women aged 25 to 64. It involves taking a small sample of cells from the surface of the cervix and sending them to a laboratory to be checked.


Cervical screening can help to prevent cancer by checking for the following

  • Abnormal cells in the cervix, which left untreated could develop into cancer. 

  • Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV). Some types of HPV can lead to changes in your cervix and cancer. The types of HPV which cause cancer can infect your cervix without causing any symptoms at all.


The NHS has put together information to help you decide whether to have a cervical screening at www.nhs.uk/cervical.