Cervical screening tests (smear tests) help to spot cervical cancer early, sometimes, even in time to prevent the cancer from developing in the first place. More than 8 out of 10 women survive cervical cancer, when it is spotted at an early stage, but sadly only 2 women out of 10 survive late stage cervical cancer.
Cervical screening is even more important because the symptoms of cervical cancer aren’t always obvious, and it may not cause any symptoms at all until it has reached a late stage. It’s estimated that regular screening tests can help to prevent around 75% of all cervical cancer cases.
Women aged between 25 and 49 receive an invitation from their GP practice every three years, and women aged between 50 and 64 receive an invitation every five years. If you’re a woman aged 65 and over and haven’t been screened since the age of 50, or if you’ve had recent abnormal tests, you’re also entitled to free cervical screening. The best thing to do is speak to your GP.
Further information on cervical screening is available from the NHS Cervical Screening Programme.