Cervical screening

Cervical screening checks the health of your cervix. It involves a smear test and is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.

Cervical screening checks a sample of cells from your cervix for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV). These types of HPV can cause abnormal changes to the cells in your cervix and are called “high risk” types of HPV. If these types of HPV are found during screening (an HPV positive result), the sample of cells is then checked for abnormal changes. If abnormal cells are not treated, they may turn into cervical cancer.

Finding high risk HPV early means you can be monitored for abnormal cell changes. Abnormal changes can be treated so they do not get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.

The chart below shows the frequency of cervical screening invitations for different age ranges.

AgeWhen you’re invited
under 25up to 6 months before you turn 25
25 to 49every 3 years
50 to 64every 5 years
65 or olderonly if 1 of your last 3 tests was abnormal