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Currently, women aged 65 and over no longer need to take part in the national screening programme, unless they need ongoing follow-up. Follow-up is generally needed if a woman has had an abnormal result in any one of her three most recent cervical screening tests or if she is recommended for early repeat screening due to a previous cervical abnormality.
The reason that cervical screening stops happening routinely at the age of 64 is linked to the way that cervical cancer develops, which means that if a woman has been regularly screened up to the age of 64 and has had three negative screening results in a row it is highly unlikely that she will go on to develop the disease. However, if a woman has not been for her routine cervical screening leading up to the age of 64 then her screening result history will not be complete, meaning she could still require further follow-up and could still be at risk of developing cervical cancer. This means that for women who are eligible for screening, the best protection against developing cervical cancer is to attend all of their invitations for screening right up to the age of 64.
If a women is aged 65 and over and has never had a cervical screening test, then she is still entitled to one.
We have more information on cervical screening for older women in our FAQ section found here.