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Your cervical screening appointment

Cervical screenings are currently suspended

To make sure that you do not miss your cervical screening opportunity due to COVID-19 and the social distancing restrictions, your test will be rescheduled for a later date:

  • if you have already made an appointment we suggest that you do not cancel this without consultation with your GP as your test can be rescheduled

  • if you have recently received your cervical screening invite letter, but you haven’t booked your test yet, right now you don’t need to take any action as we will send you a further invitation

If you have any concerns or any symptoms at all such as vaginal discharge or irregular bleeding or these develop in the forthcoming weeks, consult your GP straightaway. At the moment there are no cervical screening clinics being held at Le Bas Centre.

All individuals requiring treatment will be referred directly as usual to our specialist gynaecology department and colposcopy clinic. 

Booking your screening appointment

Women should not be menstruating at the time of their cervical screening test as this can affect the interpretation of the cytology test, if it is required. The doctor or nurse should still be able to see the cervix.

Many women prefer having a female doctor or nurse to carry out the test. You can specify this when you book your appointment.

Don't use any vaginal medications, lubricants or creams in the 2 days before you have your test because they can affect the sample results.

Your appointment will be for about 10 minutes but the actual test only takes a few minutes.

What happens during screening

The cervical screening test uses a soft brush to take a small sample of cells from the surface of your cervix. You might find the procedure a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing, but for most women it isn't painful.

At your appointment:

  1. you'll need to undress from the waist down and lie on an examination couch with a towel or blanket covering your lower half. If you’re wearing a loose skirt you can just remove your underwear
  2. you'll position yourself on your back with your knees bent and apart. If you have back pain or mobility problems, tell the doctor / nurse
  3. your nurse or GP will gently insert a speculum (medical instrument) into your vagina to hold it open, so they can see your cervix
  4. they will then gently brush cells from the cervix using a soft brush. The cells will be sent to a specialist laboratory for testing
  5. you can then get dressed

Watch a video about having a cervical screening test on NHS Choices website.

You'll be advised how and when you'll get your result (this is usually within a month).

The results of your cervical screening

Since mid September 2019, a newer test has been used in the specialist NHS laboratory that tests Jersey's cervical screening samples. The new method of testing is designed to detect human papillomavirus (HPV). This test is known as HPV primary screening. Some high-risk types of HPV can lead to abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. If a sample is HPV positive, it will be tested for abnormal cervical cells. Compared to the previously used cytology method of testing, HPV primary screening ensures early signs of cervical disease are spotted and treated earlier.

After your cervical screening test, you will receive one of four possible results: 

      1. HPV negative
      2. HPV positive: no abnormal cells
      3. HPV positive: abnormal cells
      4. Inadequate result

HPV negative

If you receive a HPV negative result, this means it’s highly unlikely that you will have any abnormal cervical cells. Even if you did, it would be extremely unlikely that they would cause a problem. We will simply call you back for screening again in 3 or 5 years’ time (depending on your age).

HPV positive: no abnormal cells

If your sample is HPV positive we also test it for abnormal cervical cells. If none are found, your result will say you have HPV, but no abnormal cells. We will ask you to come for screening again sooner than usual (your result letter will explain when). This is so we can check if your immune system has got rid of the HPV (this happens in most cases).

HPV positive: abnormal cells

There are several ‘grades’ of abnormal cells as some are more serious than others. Your result letter will explain what your results mean. If you have HPV and any grade of abnormal cervical cells we will refer you for colposcopy.

Colposcopy is a closer examination of the cervix performed at an out-patient clinic at the hospital. A colposcope is like a pair of binoculars on a stand. This allows the doctor to see the cervix magnified so they can assess the abnormal cells. Sometimes a biopsy or removal of abnormal cells will be performed to help prevent cancer.

Inadequate result

Occasionally a sample may be called ‘inadequate’. This may be due to a technical problem, for example if the laboratory cannot get an HPV test result from your sample or cannot see if abnormal cells are present or not. If you have an inadequate test, we will ask you to have cervical screening again in 3 months’ time. We wait so that there are enough cells again to get a sample from.

​Symptoms between screening tests

Screening isn't a suitable test for investigating symptoms. 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 as he/she may refer you to a Gynaecology specialist at the hospital for investigations.

Don't wait for your next screening test.​​ In fact, a screening test could come back as negative and may lead your GP into a false sense of security that he/she doesn't refer you to a specialist in hospital. 

Find out more about the symptoms of cervical cancer and how to reduce your risk​.

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