Screening For Cervical Cancer


Who is eligible for cervical screening on the NHS?

All women between the ages of 25 and 64 are eligible for a free cervical screening test every three to five years.

In the light of evidence published in 2003 the NHS Cervical Screening Programme offers screening at different intervals depending on age. This means that women are provided with a more targeted and effective screening programme.

The screening intervals are:

Age group (years) Frequency of screening
25 First invitation
25 – 49 3 yearly
50 – 64 5 yearly
65+ Only screen those who have not been screened since age 50 or have had recent abnormal tests

HPV vaccination

The HPV vaccination programme started in September 2008 with all 12- to 13-year-old and 17- to 18-year-old girls being offered the vaccine. A catch-up programme was also announced at this time with 13- to 18-year-old girls being offered the vaccine over the following two academic years.

An accelerated catch-up programme was announced in December 2008 so that all girls born on or after 1 September 1990 could be protected before the end of the academic year 2009/10.

For more information about the vaccine see

It will be many years before the vaccination programme has an effect upon cervical cancer incidence so the programme is not planning any changes yet. Vaccinated women are advised to continue accepting their invitations for cervical screening as the vaccination will not prevent all types of cervical cancer.

 If you would like to ask me about screening & vaccination for cancer of the cervix then please ask me today. Free email advice from a real doctor.

Dr Helen Webberley MBChB MRCGP MFSRH

Dr Helen Webberley MBChB MRCGP MFSRH

GP and Reproductive Health Specialist

Dr Webberley is an NHS GP in South Wales and also runs a private General Practice service online.

How common is cervical cancer?

In 2009, there were 2,747 new registrations of invasive cervical cancer in England.

After the NHS Cervical Screening Programme started in the UK in the late 1980s, cervical cancer incidence rates decreased considerably. In Great Britain, the age-standardised incidence rate almost halved (from 16 per 100,000 women in 1986-1988 to 8.5 per 100,000 women in 2006 – 2008).

Cervical cancer is the 11th most common cancer among women in the UK, and the most common cancer in women under 35.

Between 2008 and 2009 incidence rates increased by more than 20 per cent in the 25 to 34 age range (22 per cent for women aged 25-29 and 21 per cent for those aged 30-34).

Cervical screening saves approximately 4,500 lives per year in England.

Cervical screening prevents up to 3,900 cases of cervical cancer per year in the UK.



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