Cervical Screening

NCL Wide

Cervical screening is available to women and people with a cervix aged 25-64 in England. The first invitation is sent to eligible people around the age of 24.5 years.

HPV testing

HPV primary testing as routine for cervical screening began implementation as a pilot in 2013 and full rollout was achieved in December 2019. Where the HPV virus is detected (a HPV positive result), a cytology test is then performed. If a patient has an abnormal cytology result, they are referred to colposcopy.

HPV is a common virus which, although harmless in most patients, is linked to the development of abnormal cervical cells. If left untreated, these abnormal cells can develop into cervical cancer.

The results of each test are sent to the call/recall department to send to the patient. Results are also sent to the patient's GP or the sample taker (if not the GP). Patients should be notified of their test results in writing within two weeks of the sample being taken.

Opting out

If a patient wishes to opt out of cervical screening, consider the barriers to attending screening and provide patient with this GOV.UK leaflet on cervical screening.

Opting out involves a patient making an informed choice and requires their signature, so GPs are required to complete the relevant form on the CSAS website. CSAS will send a confirmation email once the form is submitted.

YouScreen pilot

Between January 2021 and December 2021, a number of GP practices across Barnet, Camden, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets (areas with particularly low cervical screening coverage) took part in the YouScreen study.

YouScreen aimed to assess the feasibility of integrating self-sampling into the NHS cervical screening programme for the first time and helped provide the evidence base for a new innovation in cervical screening. The study has now come to an end and the team continue to work to gather all data required for analysis, publication and recommendations on how it could be formally adopted within the screening programme. Local cervical screening pilots to improve uptake for non-responders are also taking place in Haringey and Enfield.

Contact the NCL cancer team for more information:
e: lucy.mclaughlin@nhs.net

Screening invitations

All eligible people who are registered with a GP (as female) will receive an invitation by mail inviting them to make an appointment, along with further information about cervical screening. Appointments are mostly through GP practices.

Helpful information and resources

For more related information, see the Cancer Care Resources section of this website.

Eligibility Criteria


Eligibility criteria for the NHS Cervical Screening Programme is as follows:

  • aged 25-49: invitations every three years
  • aged 50-64: invitations every five years
  • aged 65+: only those not screened since the age of 50 or who have had recent abnormal tests
  • trans men (assigned female at birth) do not receive invitations if registered as male with their GP, but are still entitled to screening if they have a cervix.


  • women younger than 25 should not be screened as part of the NHS cervical screening programme
  • if a woman younger than 25 presents with symptoms indicative of possible cervical cancer, refer to the GOV.UK guidelines on screening young women.


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Review date: Sunday, 08 September 2024