Who the cervical screening programme is for
Cervical screening 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
Most cervical cancers occur in women aged 25 to 64. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer occurring in women aged 35 and under.
The screening test is designed to detect human papillomavirus (HPV). Some high-risk types of HPV can lead to abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. If your sample is HPV positive, it will also be tested for abnormal cervical cells.
Learn more about HPV and how it can lead to cancer.
Most women (around 85 to 90%) will receive a negative HPV screening result. In a small number of women with a positive high-risk HPV result, cervical abnormalities will also be detected. Early detection is important as treatment can be given 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.
Your cervical screening appointment and what to expect
Reliability of cervical screening
Cervical screening can prevent about 75% of cervical cancers developing but the test isn't perfect. It may not always detect early cell changes that may lead to cancer.
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 most of us will get HPV at some point in our life. In most cases, especially in under 25s, our immune system gets rid of the HPV and any 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 miscarriage or premature birth in a future pregnancy. In addition treatment would cause unnecessary anxiety and distress for young women.
The expert UK National Screening Committee (UKNSC) 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.
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.
What to do if you have symptoms
Why the offer of screening stops at age 64
Cervical screening helps prevent cervical cancer because it can find and enable a specialist doctor to 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 your final three screening tests running up to turning 65 have had normal results, then you won’t receive any further cervical screening.
If you reach age 65 and you have never had cervical screening, speak with your GP/Nurse.