Cervical Cancer Prevention Week

Cervical screening – are you up to date?

Cervical cancer can be treatable if caught early, yet 1 in 3 people in Liverpool don’t attend for their cervical screening (Smear test) when invited.

As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, Liverpool’s Public Health team is reminding people to book an appointment if their smear test is due – alongside asking friends and family to give their loved ones a ‘nudge’ if they haven’t attended theirs.

The smear test is a free health test available on the NHS as part of the national cervical screening programme. It helps prevent cervical cancer by checking for a virus called Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cell changes. It is not a test for cancer.

Assistant Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Sarah Doyle said “Cervical cancer is more common in those under the age of 45 – but it can be treatable if caught early. Liverpool attendance rates are particularly worrying for those under 35 – with almost 40% not attending their screening appointment.  

“If people feel worried about going for their smear test, you’re not alone. Asking someone you trust about their experience, speaking with your nurse or doctor, or calling the Jo’s Trust free Helpline are all things that can help prepare you for your appointment.”

Director of Public Health, Professor Matthew Ashton said “Around 3000 people receive a cervical cancer diagnosis each year – but 75% of cervical cancers can be prevented by cervical screening (a smear test). The latest data tells us that locally around 38% of eligible people haven’t attended for their smear test in the last 3 and a half years.

“The headline data does however disguise some of the inequalities between higher deprivation communities, ethnicities and excluded population groups – where uptake is even lower. Liverpool’s community champions have now been mobilised to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of cervical screening with these communities.”

Women and people with a cervix aged between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening.

Under 25             Up to 6 months before you turn 25

25 to 49               Every 3 years

50 to 64               Every 5 years

65 or older          Only if 1 of your last 3 tests was abnormal

What happens at cervical screening?

A nurse takes a sample of cells from your cervix using a small, soft brush. The test only takes a few minutes.

It may help to know as much as possible about what going for cervical screening is like, and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s leading cervical cancer charity have a free support line 0808 802 8000.

Their website has lots of information available too – https://www.jostrust.org.uk/

The HPV Vaccine

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by an infection with certain high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV).

One way of helping prevent cervical cancer is through the HPV vaccine – which is offered to girls and boys in school in Year 8.

The HPV vaccination can protect against the most common HPV viruses, but not all – so it’s still important to attend for cervical screening – even if you have had the HPV vaccine.

If you’re eligible and miss the HPV vaccine offered in Year 8 at school, it’s available for free on the NHS up until your 25th birthday.

Contact your GP Practice to book an appointment if you are eligible. 


Book your appointment

Remember cervical cancer is one of the most preventable and treatable types of cancer if it’s caught early – so contact your GP surgery to book an appointment if you’re due (or overdue).

Cervical screening aims to identify whether you are at higher risk of developing cervical cell changes or cervical cancer. This means you can get any care or treatment you need early.

England now use HPV primary screening, which is even better as it is based on your individual risk. This means how frequently you are invited for cervical screening is based on your last result and within a timeframe that is safe for you.

Liverpool Waterfront