Screening for Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer screening aims to identify ‘at risk’ women and prevent cancer of the neck of the womb (cervix) by detecting and treating early abnormalities. If these abnormalities remain undetected, they may lead to cervical cancer over a period of time. Regular screening reduces the risk of cervical cancer by 90%.
Cervical screening is performed by scraping superficial cells from the neck of the womb using a soft brush and looking for abnormal changes in these cells in the laboratory.
It also gives the additional benefit of testing for high risk subtypes of the human papilloma virus (HPV) as these have a higher risk of leading to cervical cancer. There are about 100 types of wart viruses, of which types 16, 18, 31, 33 and 45 are more associated with cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN, pre-cancer) and invasive cancer.
Taking a cervical smear may be uncomfortable but is generally not painful in most women. Screening on the NHS starts at 25 by invitation, and is then at 3 yearly intervals between the years of 25 to 49 and 5 yearly from age 50 to 64 (NHS cervical screening programme).
Earlier and more frequent screening is available in the private sector. Many women prefer annual cervical smears for peace of mind. At Women’s Health Care Ltd, we can offer you cervical smears, HPV and colposcopy for peace of mind and timely reassurance.
On detection of abnormal cells and/or high risk HPV subtypes, the woman is referred for colposcopy.