Cervical cancer screening: Who should have a smear test?

A cervical screening test is a technique of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix. Find out when you should have a smear test.

Who should have a cervical smear test | Photo Credit: Thinkstock

New Delhi: Women aged 25 to 64 are advised to have a cervical screening test, also known as a smear test, within the period recommended for their age. Basically, a cervical screening test is a technique of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix, the entrance to the womb from the vagina. This means, cervical screening isn’t a test for cancer, it’s a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix.

Meanwhile, official figures from Public Health England (PHE) revealed that cervical screening rates are at their lowest for two decades, with about three millions of British women skipping a smear test, reports the BBC. The report added that a further million women aged 50 to 64 have not had a smear test for at least five and a half years. PHE said it was ‘concerned’by the fall.

It is said that about 220,000 British women are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities each year, with the disease claiming 854 lives in England in 2016. Earlier, a joint study on cervical cancer prepared by ASSOCHAM-National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR) revealed that India alone accounts for 1.4th of the global burden of cervical cancer. It is estimated that cervical cancer will occur in approximately 1 in 53 Indian women during their lifetime compared with 1 in 100 women in more developed regions of the world.

When you should have a cervical screening test

Getting a smear test when it’s due is considered the best way to reduce your risk of developing cervical cancer. If abnormal cells are found during the test, these can be removed to stop them from becoming cancerous. Depending on the age, a woman should have a test. For instance,

  • Women aged 25 to 49 – are offered tests every 3 years
  • Women aged 50 to 64 – every 5 years
  • Women over 65 – only women who have recently had abnormal tests

It is suggested that women get tested for cervical cancer each time it’s due even if they have had the HPV vaccination. This is important because of the fact that the HPV vaccine doesn’t guarantee complete protection against cervical cancer.

According to the NHS, these tests will pick up some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix in 1 in 20 women, reducing the number of deaths caused by cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is most common in women aged 25-29, however, it can affect women of any age who are sexually active.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *