About cervical cancer
The cervical cancer screening programme was introduced in the 1980s. Since then the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year. Regular screening enables early identification of any abnormal cells in the cervix at an early stage so that any necessary treatment can be offered to prevent cancer developing.
About 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.
It is possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, although the condition mainly affects sexually active women aged 30 to 45. The condition is very rare in women under 25.
Why do we screen?
The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina. A cervical screening test or smear test is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix. It is offered routinely to all woman aged between 25-65 years. All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening. Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited every 3 years, while women 50 to 64 are invited every 5 years. Only women who are aged over 65 who haven’t had a test since they were 50 or those who have had a recent abnormal test are invited.
Women under the age of 25 aren’t routinely invited for screening as part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme because normal developmental cell changes in the cervix can look very similar to abnormal cell changes, leading to unnecessary treatment and worry.
Cervical cancer is also very rare in this age group. If you have any abnormal symptoms such as bleeding in-between your periods or after sex you should visit your GP, practice nurse, sexual health clinic or you can make an appointment at The Women’s Health Clinic for a consultation with an experienced nurse who can offer you advice.
If you want a cervical smear test but have not been invited as part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme because you are aged under 25, over 65, or your smear test is not due, we can offer you a private smear for peace of mind.
If an abnormality is detected we can refer you to a specialist clinic for further investigations and treatment if required. If you do not want to have your cervical smear at your GP surgery but you are part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme we can offer you an appointment at a time and location that is convenient for you.
About the test
The test takes about 10 minutes and is not painful, just slightly uncomfortable. The nurse will look at the neck of the womb using a small disposable device known as a speculum which is inserted into the vagina. A few cells are gently removed from the neck of the womb with the use of a sort brush before being placed in a pot and sent to the laboratory for testing.
The results are back within a week and your named nurse can contact you directly to explain your results. If further investigation or treatment is required, she can also arrange for this to take place.
Occasionally some women experience a degree of discomfort during the procedure and may have some light spotting for a few hours after the procedure. However, it should not be painful. Here at TWHC your named nurse will take time to explain the procedure to you and ensure that you are relaxed. She will allow plenty of time so that you do not feel rushed
If you require further information, please ring TWHC on 0800 488 0909 and speak directly to one of our specialist nurses for help and advice to put your mind at rest.
Each cervical health check at The Women’s Health Clinic costs £150, this includes a consultation with a named nurse, a cervical screening test and a telephone call from your named nurse to give you the results directly and explain the findings to you personally.