Your Cervical Smear
Thank you for coming!
- Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.
- It’s not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer.
- All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 should be invited by letter.
- During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.
- The sample is checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called “high risk” types of HPV.
- If these types of HPV are not found, you do not need any further tests.
- If these types of HPV are found, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
- You’ll get your results by letter, usually in about 2 weeks. It will explain what happens next.
Cervical screening checks a sample of cells from your cervix for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). These types of HPV can cause abnormal changes to the cells in your cervix and are called “high risk” types of HPV.
If these types of HPV are found during screening (an HPV positive result), the sample of cells is then checked for abnormal changes. If abnormal cells are not treated, they may turn into cervical cancer.
What is HPV?
HPV is the name for a very common group of viruses. Most people will get some type of HPV during their lives. It is very common and nothing to feel ashamed or embarrassed about.
Some types of HPV (called “high risk” types) can cause cervical cancer. In most cases your body will get rid of HPV without it causing any problems. But sometimes HPV can stay in your body for a long time. Some high risk types of HPV stay in your body, they can cause changes to the cells in your cervix. These changes may become cervical cancer if not treated.
During cervical screening a small sample of cells is taken from yourcervix for testing. These are sent to a lab in Newcastle for testing.
Your results will arrive by post to your home address, this takes up to 2 weeks. Try not to worry if it is taking a long time to get your results letter, it does not mean anything is wrong, and most people will have a normal result.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is not found in your sample
Most people will not have HPV (an HPV negative result).
This means your risk of getting cervical cancer is very low. You do not need any further tests to check for abnormal cervical cells, even if you have had these in the past.
You’ll be invited for screening again in 3 or 5 years.
HPV is found in your sample
Your results letter will explain what will happen next if HPV is found in your sample (an HPV positive result).
You may need:
- another cervical screening test in 1 year
- a different test to look at your cervix (a colposcopy)
There are 2 different kinds of HPV positive result:
|Result||What it means|
|HPV found (HPV positive) but no abnormal cells||You’ll be invited for screening in 1 year and again in 2 years if you still have HPV. If you still have HPV after 3 years, you may need to have a colposcopy.|
|HPV found (HPV positive) and abnormal cells||You’ll be asked to have a colposcopy.|
HPV is a common virus and most people will get it at some point. You can get it through any kind of sexual contact. Having a positive HPV result does not mean your partner has had sex with someone else while you have been together.
You might have HPV even if you have not been sexually active or not had a new partner for many years.
If you need a colposcopy
A colposcopy is a simple procedure to look at your cervix.
It’s similar to having cervical screening, but it’s done in hospital.You might need a colposcopy if your results show changes to the cells of your cervix. Try not to worry if you have been referred for a colposcopy.
Any changes to your cells will not get worse while you’re waiting for your appointment.
For more information and support about going for cervical screening, results and treatment, you can contact Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust by:
- joining the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust Forum
- calling the helpline on 0808 802 8000
HPV vaccination is offered to boys and girls in year 8 at high school as part of the UK Immunisation schedule 0-18 years. It is important you consider this vaccination for your child to protect them.
The nursing and GP team at The Fountain medical Centre hope you have found this information educational, reassuring and easy to understand.