Testing for cervical cancer (women only)

Sample type needed

Cell sample (internal swab)

Incubation period 

Screening is recommended regularly.

Who is this test suitable for?

Women over 21 who are (or have been) sexually active

Results time 

Within 5 days of receipt in the lab

Treatment

Regular screening will ensure any cell changes are picked up early. Treatment, if required, will depend on cell status.

Where can I get tested / screened?

All Better2Know centres with a doctor

What is a Smear Test?

A Smear Test is used to detect abnormal cell changes in the cervix that could potentially develop into cervical cancer. 

Who should have a Smear Test?

Women who are worried about cervical cancer can have a Smear Test (or PAP Smear) through Better2Know. The test is suitable and appropriate for women 21 years of age or over, and women who are worried about cervical cancer. Better2Know does not recommend PAP Smears for women under the age of 21 as generally the cells of the cervix are still developing at this age and can often give rise to incorrect results which can be distressing to the individual. If you are younger than 21 and are worried about your cervical health, please contact Better2Know and ask to speak to our medical team who will be happy to provide advice and guidance.

Women who are sexually active should have regular smear test and should start then from around twelve months after they become sexually active.

Did you know? …

Around 80% of sexually active men and women will contract the HPV virus at some point during their lifetime.

What happens during my Smear Test?

The clinician will gently insert a speculum to take a sample of cells from your cervix using a small brush. This procedure can be a little bit uncomfortable but will not hurt. The clinician will help you to relax. The sample is then sent to our laboratory for analysis. The results will be reported on line as soon as they are back from the laboratory.

Better2Know Smear Tests are very accurate and reliable, however, we do ask you to make sure that you are not bleeding on the day of your test as this can interfere with the analysis of your sample.

What do the results mean?

A Smear Test looks for abnormal cells on the cervix. Most results will be normal, and then you will not require another test for the next 3 years. 

If your test detects any changes to the cells, the sample can then be tested to see if you have a HPV infection.  Having abnormal cells does not mean that you have cervical cancer, but it is useful to establish whether these changes are a result of a HPV infection. Because HPV is a common cause of cervical cancer, if these changes to the cells are detected and results show HPV infection, then Better2Know will help you to access further investigations to find out what is causing the changes in your cells.  

Better2Know recommends that you choose the Smear Test with a HPV test, so that you can get a full picture of your cervical health at the same time and from the same sample.

What is HPV?

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is a very common virus that can affect men and women, and can be transmitted through sexual contact.  It is the cause of almost all cases of cervical cancer. HPV is also the cause of genital warts. There are more than 100 types of HPV and some can cause abnormal changes to the cells of the cervix, which can lead to cervical cancer. There is no cure for HPV, however, treatments are available for genital warts and any changes to the cells of the cervix can be closely examined and appropriate treatement provided. If you are sexually active or have symptoms of HPV, you should get tested regularly and keep yourself from genital warts and cervical and other cancers.

HPV and Cervical Screening

The cells on the cervix undergo a series of changes over the course of many years, and the purpose of cervical screening is to detect changes to the cells before they become cancerous due to the presence of the HPV virus. 

The tests for women include a full examination of the cells of the cervix and an evaluation of your HPV status and cervical health. 

For women, the tests available from Better2Know are:

  1. A PAP smear, where cells are collected from the cervix using a small brush. The cells are then examined for any trace of abnormalities and if any abnormalities are detected, Better2Know will suggest appropriate next steps
  2. A HPV test, where a sample is collected from the appropriate site and is tested using a PCR method to detect  High Risk and Low Risk viral types. This test may disrupt the cells of the cervix making them unsuitable for a PAP test for a period of time, so it may be better to have the combined test if you are worried about both.
  3. A combined PAP smear and HPV test. This is recommended for women concerned about their cervical health and HPV status. This test looks for changes to the cells of the cervix, and looks for the HPV Virus.