Why you are offered a free cervical screening test
A cervical screening test (smear test) is a way of finding abnormal cells in the cervix.
If not found, these abnormal cells could develop into cervical cancer. So removing them can prevent cervical cancer.
It's estimated that cervical screening can prevent 75% of cervical cancer cases.
But a cervical screening test is not a diagnostic test. This means it is not a test for cancer. Like all screening tests, it's carried out on people who seem to be healthy. They don't have any symptoms.
A screening test doesn't look to see if you have cancer. But it does look to see if you might be at greater risk of developing cancer in the future. This is why it can be so effective in reducing the risk of cancer.
But cervical screening, like all screening programmes, is not perfect.
Some women will still develop cervical cancer despite regular screening. While the risk of cervical cancer can be reduced, it can't be eliminated by screening.
This is why it is important to attend for a screening test when it is due.