Who the cervical screening programme is for
Cervical screening, also known as a smear test, is for women aged 25 to 64. From age 25, you are recommended to attend every three years. From age 50, you are recommended to attend every five years.
Why you should attend
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under, although it can occur at any age. The screening test is designed to detect abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Nine out of 10 women will get a normal result. In a small number of women, cervical abnormalities are detected. Early detection is important and can be treated in an out-patient clinic at the hospital. Regular screening between the ages of 25 to 64 can stop around 75% of cervical cancers developing.
How to register for cervical screening
You won't automatically be invited for screening when you reach 25 or when you move to the Island.
You need to book your first appointment with your GP surgery. You can ask for an appointment with a female doctor or nurse. You'll then be invited every three or five years, depending on your age.
The cervical screening test and consultation are free at GP surgeries in Jersey. Cervical screening is also free at The Community Contraception Centre at Le Bas Centre.
If you leave the island
If you leave Jersey or choose to go off-island to have your screening test or follow-up treatment, tellyour GP so this can be recorded in your medical notes.
When to book your test
The best time to book your appointment is when you don't have your period. If you're unsure, ask about it when you make your appointment.
If you're pregnant, you should wait until three months after your baby is born.
If you've had a hysterectomy and you still have a cervix, you should continue to have screening. If you don’t have a cervix, ask your GP for further advice.
Paying for a smear test
The cervical screening test and consultation are free at GP surgeries in Jersey and at Le Bas Centre.
Risks and side effects of screening
Cervical screening isn't 100% accurate and doesn't prevent all cases of cervical cancer, but it's the best way to pick up any abnormal cells that could later turn to cancer. It's used routinely in many countries around the world.
Regular screening can stop up to 75% of cervical cancers developing. This is why it's important to attend screening when you're invited.
Why women under 25 aren't routinely screened
Cervical screening is not suitable for women under 25. This is because it can do more harm than good.
It’s common for younger women to have abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) causes these changes. Most HPV infections are sexually transmitted and 80% of us will get at least one type. In most cases, especially in under 25s, the immune system gets rid of the HPV and the cell changes go back to normal.
Having treatment under the age of 25 for cell changes that would disappear on their own can result in an increased risk of premature birth in a future pregnancy. Treatment would cause unnecessary anxiety and distress for young women.
The UK expert National Screening Committee doesn’t recommend cervical screening under the age of 25. Evidence shows, in a population overall, that it can do younger women more harm than good. So it’s very important not to have cervical screening under age 25.
Jo's Trust national charity explains why screening is not advisable in under 25s.
Women of any age who have symptoms, whether pain, bleeding or discharge, should see their GP for assessment.
Why the offer of screening stops at age 64
Cervical screening prevents cervical cancer because it can find and remove abnormal cells before they have a chance to turn cancerous.
Cervical cancer usually develops very slowly. It's estimated that it takes between 10 and 20 years for HPV infection to develop into abnormal cervical cells, and then on into cervical cancer. As cervical cancer develops so slowly, it is highly unlikely that women over 64 who have been regularly screened will go on to develop the disease. If a woman’s final three screening tests running up to turning 65 have had normal results, then she won’t receive any further invitations.
If you reach age 65 and you have never had cervical screening, speak with your GP.
Symptoms between screening tests
If you have symptoms between screening tests, such as discharge, bleeding after sex or bleeding between periods, you should see your GP as soon as possible.
Don't wait for your next screening test.
Symptoms of cervical cancer and how to reduce your risk