Cervical Screening

The nurses carry out these important screening tests for early changes associated with cervical cancer which are recommended for all women aged 25-49 every three years and 5 yearly between 50 – 64. Patients are routinely called by the PCT screening programme and can book an appointment via reception. The best time to take a smear is in the first half of the your period cycle.

Smear Invitations – are sent by the local Primary Care Trust If you choose to have the smear taken at the practice please make an appointment with the practice nurse. The best time to take a smear is mid-way between periods.

The Smear Appointment – The nurse will explain the procedure and you should feel able to ask any questions at any time The sample of cells is taken are sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope.

Laboratory testing

Cytology – the study through a microscope of the cells on the slide – enables the smear tests to be grouped into different grades which determine what happens next. You should receive the result of your smear test in writing within 6-8 weeks from the date of your test.

Normal results – are notified by the PCT screening department. You will then be recalled for another routine smear test within three to five years. Nearly 3.3 million women aged 25 to 64 who received a result in 2004-05, 94.8% had a normal result.

Abnormal results– This means the laboratory has identified some cell changes which need further investigation. Not all abnormal changes need to be referred for immediate treatment; some may disappear without the need for any treatment. Depending on the degree of changes the practice will recall patients for a repeat smear in six or twelve months, or may be referred for colposcopy.

Colposcopy is performed by specially trained clinicians at an outpatient appointment. A colposcope – a low-powered microscope – is used to examine the woman’s cervix to assess the extent and severity of any problem and to determine appropriate treatment.

Inadequate smears – A small proportion of women are asked to return for a second smear test as the first was considered to be inadequate. This simply means the laboratory was not able to assess the cells on the slide to give a result. This may be because of the presence of blood obscuring the cells, or because the sample of cells was smeared too thick or thin. In 2004-05, the percentage of inadequate smears was 9.0%.

If you have any queries regarding the cervical screening programme and the recalls then Carolyn Coulton, is responsible for this programme. She can be contacted at the surgery between 8am and 1pm Monday to Thursday. Telephone (01604) 876314.

If you wish to discuss the result of your smear or need further information then please make an appointment to see either the practice nurse or a doctor.

Useful websites for cervical screening information can be found at: