Detectable. Preventable. Treatable.

Have you had your screen yet?

Cervical Screening Awareness Week takes place between 10th and 16th June - find out more and how you can get involved next week

Cervical screening (a smear test) is the best protection against cervical cancer. It detects cell changes which, if untreated, could go on to develop into cancer.

About one in twenty people will have an abnormal result after cervical screening - about 220,000 women every year. Cervical cancer is rare thanks to screening and early treatment – the screening programme saves 5,000 lives every year.

Get involved!

There are lots of ways to get involved and support women with cervical cancer and help us create a world where no woman suffers from it. Examples include:

  • Fundraising events
  • Donations
  • Volunteering and more.

Find out more.

What is cervical cancer?

Cervical cancer is when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix grow in an uncontrolled way. The cervix is the lower part of the womb and is the opening to the vagina from the womb.

What are the symptoms?

The most common symptoms of cervical cancer include:

  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Pain or discomfort during sex
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pain in the area between the hip bones (pelvis).

There are many other conditions that cause these symptoms. Most of them are much more common than cervical cancer.  These may be symptoms of something else, but it is best to see your GP straight away. If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, there is a good chance of a cure. Regular cervical screening tests can detect pre-cancer which can be treated before cancer develops.

Who is at risk?

Every year in the UK, over 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under.

Cervical cancer can be prevented by regular cervical screening tests.

While high-risk HPV is the cause of 99.7% of all cervical cancers, there are other factors that increase your risk of developing the disease. These include:

  • Not attending cervical screening (smear test)
  • Factors that increase your exposure to the virus - read more
  • Factors that make your body more vulnerable to infections or less able to fight them off (by affecting your body’s immune response). This includes smoking - so stop!

What is the cervical screening test?

Cervical screening is a free health test that helps prevent cervical cancer. It checks for cell changes (abnormal cells) on your cervix caused by high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). It is not a test for cancer.

In the UK, you are automatically invited for cervical screening if you are:

  • Between the ages of 25 to 64
  • Registered as female with a GP surgery.

You are invited:

  • Every three years between age 25 and 49
  • Every five years between age 50 and 64.

You may get your first invitation up to six months before you turn 25. You can book an appointment as soon as you get the invitation.

It is very rare to develop cervical cancer:

  • Under the age of 25
  • Over the age of 64, if you have had regular cervical screening.

Watch the video about the test.


If abnormal cells are found, (changes in the cells covering the neck of your womb (cervix)), this is not the same as cervical cancer. There are various methods to remove these cells.

If you have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, there are a range of treatment options available including surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

See the screening FAQS.

Don't know the lingo?

Read the jargon buster