Cervical screening programme in Northern Ireland
In Northern Ireland, all women aged 25-49 are invited to attend for a cervical screening test every three years. Women aged 50-64 are invited every five years. The test (often called a smear test) looks for abnormal changes in the cells that line the cervix.
The abnormal changes are usually caused by infection with ‘high risk’ types of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a very common infection and usually clears up by itself. But in some women the virus persists, damaging the cells of the cervix. These abnormal changes can develop into cancer over time if they are not treated.
Attending for regular screening tests is the best way for women to protect themselves from developing cervical cancer in the future. It is important for women to continue to take up their screening invitations as not all cervical cancers can be prevented by vaccination.
Find out more about the Northern Ireland Cervical Screening Programme.