Cervical Cancer Screening

Dr Shanika Attale

October 16, 2022

What is Cervical Screening?

Cervical Screening is a test that helps prevent Cervical Cancer.  It is an extremely effective test, as it can detect precancerous changes (i.e. ‘warning signs’) in your cells many years before these might lead on to you developing Cervical Cancer.   By detecting and treating precancerous changes, you can be ‘cured’ even before you actually get Cervical Cancer.

 The test is taken by a doctor or nurse.  

How do i prepare for my Cervical Screening test?

Ensure you do not book a test when you are menstruating.   Avoid intercourse, or any topical treatments to your vagina for the 2 days before your test. 

What happens on the day?

The doctor or nurse will greet you and answer any questions you may have about your test.  When you are ready, you will be invited to lay on an examination couch behind a screen and asked to remove clothing from your lower half. When you are ready the doctor or nurse will join you behind the screen and carry out the procedure.  Once you are ready they will insert a plastic speculum into your vagina, in order to visualise your cervix.  They will then use a brush to sweep across the surface of your cervix, picking up some of your cervical cells. The brush will be swirled in a small sample pot, after which this pot will be sent to a laboratory for analysis.

What are the possible results?

The sample is tested for the presence of ‘high risk’ types of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) associated with the development of cervical cancer.   Where high risk HPV is discovered, the laboratory will then undertake further tests on the cells in your sample.

Examples of common results are:

  • Normal
  • HPV found but no cell changes
  • Abnormal with borderline cell changes.
  • Abnormal with low grade cell changes
  • Abnormal with high grade cell changes
  • Inadequate

Your result will come within a week or two of your test, and comes with a recommendation for further testing.  This recommendation may be to arrange a repeat smear in the near future, or it may be a recommendation for a more intensive test with a gynaecologist called colposcopy.   Sometimes this will be required urgently. 

How do we manage different results:

If you are advised to have a colposcopy referral, we will arrange for our GP to call you (at no extra charge) to discuss an onwards colposcopy referral. If you have an inadequate smear and are aged 25 or over*, we can book you in for a complimentary repeat smear in 3 months – this gives enough tome for your cells to regenerate for us to sample again.  

 *If you are under 25, we do not offer complimentary testing. This is because it is known that you are likely to have less cells available to sample so inadequate is a more frequent or likely result.

When can I get Cervical Screening done through the NHS

You can arrange a test through the NHS Cervical Cancer Screening programme through your NHS GP surgery.   If you are between the ages of 25 and 49, an NHS test can be arranged every three years (or more frequently if you have had abnormal results).  If you are between the ages of 50 and 64 tests are performed every 5 years unless abnormal.   We do not offer testing through the NHS screening programme at 222 Healthcare.

Who chooses to have Private Cervical Testing?

You can arrange your test privately with us at 222 Healthcare.  We have experienced doctors and nurses on hand to do the testing for you. 

Some people choose to come and test with us for the following reasons:

  • to be tested when they are under 25 or over 64
  • To be tested more frequently than the NHS programme permits
  • to have the test performed in a Private Health clinic