Cervical screening - What is cervical screening?

Cervical screening looks for abnormal cells in the cervix, which might become cancer if they aren’t treated. In England, cervical screening currently prevents 70% of cervical cancer deaths.

Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by a virus called human papillomavirus (HPV).

HPV is very common, and most people will get the virus at some point in their life. You can get it through any kind of sexual contact (with either a man or a woman). Only some types of HPV can lead to cancer. These do not cause any symptoms.

HPV can cause cells in your cervix to become abnormal. These abnormal cells are then at risk of becoming cancer. Screening can identify these cells early, so you can have more tests or treatment to get rid of them.

The HPV vaccine doesn’t prevent all types of cervical cancer. So even if you have had the vaccine, regular screening is still important to make sure everything is okay.

If you have more questions about cervical screening, you can find out more on GOV.UK.