Cervical screening for HPV

A smear test could save your life

Going for your smear test is the best thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer

What's changing in cervical screening in Scotland?

From March 2020, cervical screening (smear) tests in Scotland will change. 

If your appointment is on or after 16th March 2020, your sample will be tested for the human papilloma virus (HPV) instead of looking for changes to cells in your cervix (neck of the womb).

HPV is the main cause of cancer.

If HPV is found, we’ll then look at the same sample for cell changes. The way we do the test won't change.

Benefits of screening

  • It can stop cervical cancer before it starts.
  • The test should take no more than 5 minutes and could save your life.
  • It can find changes even if you look healthy and have no symptoms.
  • It’s the best way of finding out if you’re at risk of cervical cancer.

We hope to wipe out cervical cancer in Scotland through a combination of vaccinating girls and boys against HPV in secondary school and introducing HPV testing to cervical screening.


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What is HPV?

  • HPV is very common and usually has no symptoms - four out of five people in Scotland will have it at some point in their lives.
  • People probably won’t even know they're carrying HPV and, in most people, their body clears it over time.
  • HPV is passed on through any sexual contact, not just penetrative sex.
  • Over 99% of all cervical cancers are caused by HPV.

 Find out more

Who should go for screening?

Going for screening every time you’re invited is the best thing you can do to prevent cervical cancer.

Cervical screening is offered to women (and anyone with a cervix) aged between 25 and 64 years. Some people are offered screening up to the age of 70 years if results from previous screenings show there are changes that need to be monitored.

After breast cancer, cervical cancer is the most common women’s cancer in the world.

It’s normal to feel embarrassed or anxious about having such an intimate test.

But remember the nurse or GP carrying out your test will carry out cervical screening tests every day and there are things they can do to make it easier.

Did you know you can ask for a translator, female nurse or GP, or you can bring a friend or relative? You can also book a longer appointment if you need a bit more time to talk through things.

Don’t ignore your cervical screening invite when it arrives by post.

And if you missed your last appointment contact your GP to make an appointment today.

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