It is advisable for all people with a cervix to have Pap test (or Pap smear) every two years to detect abnormal cells. The test can’t be taken during your period as too many cells from the blood can confuse the results. A spatula is used to gently scrape cells from the inner and outer cervix. A negative report means an ‘all clear’. A positive report almost always means that there is a need to monitor and/or follow up some condition on the cervix. Pap tests are recommended for people without symptoms. So, if you are experiencing symptoms such as abnormal bleeding or discharge, visit your local sexual health clinic or doctor.
New Cervical Screening Test from December 2017
From December 2017, the Pap test will be replaced by the cervical screening test. The new cervical screening test:
- Is more accurate
- Increases the time between tests from every 2 years to 5 years
- Requires screening to start from 25 rather than 18 years of age
- Has an ’exit test‘ for people aged between 70-74 years of age
- An ‘exit test’ is a final test to exit the cervical screening program
A National Cancer Screening Register will be established alongside the implementation of the new cervical screening test. However, you can choose not to be included in the register.
HPV vaccinated people will still be required to take regular cervical screening tests, as the vaccine does not give protection from all strains of HPV that cause cancer.
If you are experiencing symptoms such as abnormal bleeding, discharge or pain, visit your local sexual health clinic or doctor.
Until the new cervical cancer screening tests are made available, it is recommended that you continue your regular Pap test schedule.
Dysplasia means that the way the cells are growing is disorganised and that these abnormal surface cells could be a sign of problems. Dysplasia is most common in people in their 20s. Colposcopy may be recommended if dysplasia is discovered and treatment will depend on the type of cell changes found. A colposcopy is further investigation following an abnormal pap smear or cervical screening, where a colposcope is used to view the cervix. Depending on the severity of the dysplasia, a repeat test may be all that is recommended, or surgery may be required.