Beacon Medical Practice provides cervical smears to women between the ages 25 and 65. Regular screening means that any problems can be identified and treated in the early stages before they become too serious, reducing the chances of cancer developing.
Cervical Smear Test
All women are encouraged to have regular smear tests to detect pre-cancerous changes at the neck of the womb. You will be invited to attend routinely every three to five years. Routine smear tests are usually carried out by our Practice Nurses.
You should receive the result of your smear test in writing within six weeks. The result will be either normal (negative) or abnormal. A small proportion of tests cannot be completed because of a lack of visible cells. In such cases, you’ll be invited for a repeat test.
Liquid-based Cytology (LBC)
We are using a type of smear test, which uses liquid to store cells from the cervix. This has been shown to be more accurate than the traditional slide smear, resulting in fewer false-negatives and inadequate smears. The sample is taken just like a standard smear, but instead of smearing the cells onto a glass slide, the top of the spatula, or brush, is placed in a small tube filled with preservative liquid. This enables the laboratory to separate out mucus and blood before analysing the cells.
With liquid-based cytology the sample cells can also be tested for HPV (the sexually transmitted infection linked to 99% of cervical cancers) and chlamydia. This helps to identify HPV early – before cell changes have begun – and gives women with the virus the opportunity to have more frequent screening. If the results show both cell changes and HPV, the woman may be referred more quickly for tests and treatment.
Cervical Screening Programme
The Department of Health recommends that women between the ages of 25 and 65 have routine cervical smears every three to five years as part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. Women are now invited for their first test at 25. They are then invited every three years until the age of 49, and every five years from 50 to 64.
Women in this age group who are registered with a GP should be sent a letter and information leaflet when it is time to have their smear test. Some women also keep their own personal records of test dates and results so they know when they’re due for screening even if they don’t receive a reminder.