About Cervical Screening Wales

Cervical Screening Wales is responsible for the NHS cervical screening programme in Wales, including sending invitations automatically. We get your details from your doctor’s list, so it is important that your doctor always has your correct name and address. If you have chosen to have a smear taken privately in the past, you are still entitled to have an NHS smear, and so you would still receive an invitation when your NHS smear was due.

Aims of the Cervical Screening Programme

The aim of the cervical screening programme is to reduce the incidence of, and morbidity and mortality from, invasive cervical cancer. However, screening also has the potential to cause both physical and psychological harm to women invited. It is essential that this harm is minimised, so that the benefits of screening outweigh the costs. A balance must be struck between maximising effectiveness and minimising harm.

The Eligible Population

The target age group for cervical screening is women aged 25 to 64.

Invitation

Invitation letters are sent to all eligible women in Wales, as long as they are registered with a GP.

Who do we invite?

  • Women aged 25-49 are invited every three years
  • Women aged 50-64 are invited every five years

Are there any exceptions?

  • Women under the age of 25 who have already been invited for screening will continue to be invited
  • Women being followed up for an abnormality will be invited even if under the age of 25 or over the age of 65
  • Women with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) are advised to be screened every year
  • If you are 65 or over and have never had a smear test, then you are entitled to have one

Key messages for women

  • Cervical screening is not a test for cancer. It detects possible abnormalities, or changes in the cells, which may develop into cancer if they are not treated.
  • Almost all abnormalities are successfully treated.
  • The examination of cervical smears is a highly skilled process. Like most medical tests it is not 100% accurate. However, having a regular smear test means that an abnormality is less likely to remain undetected.
  • Most results are normal - no abnormal cells were found. No further investigations are needed but you should continue to attend for routine smear tests when invited.
  • A normal result means that no abnormality was detected at that time but is not a guarantee that no abnormalities exist.
  • If you ever have irregular or unusual bleeding or discharge tell your GP, even if you have had a recent negative smear test.