Cervical screening in the UK

Are you eligible for NHS screening?

To be invited for cervical screening in the UK you need to be registered with a GP, who needs to have your current address on file. The NHS 'call and recall' system invites all women who are eligible for screening and registered with a GP. This system also keeps track of any follow-up investigations and, if all is well, recalls you for screening at the appropriate time for you – either three or five years depending on your age. It is important that you make sure to update your GP with any changes of circumstance or address.

Across the whole of the UK women are invited for cervical screening between the ages of 25 and 64. Women aged 25–49 are invited every three years and women aged 50–64 are invited every five years. 

Women may be invited for screening up to 6 months before the age of eligibility (ie., at 24 years and 6 months old).

Women who are eligible and who have not previously had a cervical screening may be offered one when they attend their GP or family planning clinic on another matter. For example, if your doctor notices that your cervical screening is overdue while they are taking a routine history as part of an examination for something else, they may offer you a cervical screen during your appointment. If you are eligible and have not received an invitation to attend cervical screening then you should contact your GP.

If you are experiencing any abnormal symptoms that you are worried may be related to cervical cancer, please consult your GP as soon as possible (even if you are not due for a cervical screening).

Those with compromised immune systems

Women who have a severely compromised immune system, such as those with HIV, should be screened annually as they are more likely to develop a persistent infection of HPV that could, over time, cause cervical abnormalities. This screening test is usually taken outside of the NHS National Screening Programme. Please check with your health care professional for further information on screening outside of the national programme.

Date last updated: 
06 Jun 2016
Date due for review: 
04 Sep 2017

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