A cervical screening test, or smear test, is a method of detecting abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in the cervix in order to prevent cervical cancer. The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina.
It is not a test for cancer, it is a test to detect the health of the cells of the cervix.
Most test results show that everything is normal but 1 in 20 will show abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
This doesnt mean that these changes will lead to cervical cancer and the cells may just go back to normal on their own. However in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be treated to prevent them becoming cancerous.
All women aged between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening. Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited for testing every three years, and women older than this are invited every five years.
It is estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers.
The cervical screening test usually takes around five minutes to carry out. An instrument called a speculum will be gently inserted into your vagina to hold the walls of your vagina open so that your cervix is visible. A small brush-like instrument will be used to take some cells from the surface of your cervix.
The sample of cervical cells will then be sent to a laboratory and examined under a microscope to see whether there are any abnormal cells.
Breast Screening (Mammogram)
The Northampton General Hospital offers a three-year routine mammogram screening for women over the age of 50 years. This is particularly important for the early detection of breast cancer.
Please make every effort to attend as it is obviously in your interest to do so.