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.
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:
Find out more.
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.
The most common symptoms of cervical cancer include:
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.
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:
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:
You are invited:
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:
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.