PEOPLE in the Bradford district and Craven are urged to go for potentially life-saving cervical screening.

The plea, which leads up to Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (20-27 January), has been issued as nearly a third of women in the area do not take up the offer of a screening test.

As part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, women aged 25-49 are invited for a smear test at their GP practice every three years, while those aged 50-64 receive an invitation for screening every five years. Cervical screening is one of the best ways to protect against cervical cancer. 

If you are overdue for your cervical screening test or are not sure when you are due, people can get in touch with their GP practice.

Cervical screening is moving to a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV) first. In the majority of cases, a HPV infection goes away without doing the body any harm. Sometimes it causes cells to change which, if not treated, could develop into cervical cancer. Testing for HPV is a far more accurate test estimated to prevent almost 500 diagnoses of cervical cancer every year. 

Dr Anne Connolly, GP and clinical lead for maternity, women's health and sexual health for Bradford district and Craven clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), said: “Many people worry about their cervical screening test. But it’s often reassuring to know that you are welcome to take a friend or relative along with you to your appointment.

"The nurses, GPs or local contraception service who carry out the test are there to support and make it as easy as possible for you.  They are happy to have a chat before you book your smear test to discuss any concerns or questions you may have.

“Cervical screening takes just a few minutes and is so important to help to spot any early signs of cancer. The symptoms of cervical cancer are not usually obvious and you may not get any symptoms until it’s reached an advanced stage. That’s why screening is one of the best ways to protect against cervical cancer.

“It’s important to remember that you are still at risk of cervical cancer even if you have had the HPV vaccine as it does not protect you from all types of HPV. Anybody with a cervix who had had any kind of sexual contact is at risk of cervical cancer, including those who are lesbian, bisexual or transgender.”

People can book an appointment for cervical screening through their GP practice. There are appointments available in the evenings until 9.30pm. These appointments may be at your usual practice or another NHS service nearby and can be booked by contacting your GP practice.

What happens during a smear test?

  • You'll need to undress, behind a screen, from the waist down. You'll be given a sheet to put over you.
  • The nurse will ask you to lie back on a bed, usually with your legs bent, feet together and knees apart. Sometimes you may need to change position during the test.
  • They'll gently put a smooth, tube-shaped tool (a speculum) into your vagina. A small amount of lubricant may be used.
  • The nurse will open the speculum so they can see your cervix.
  • Using a soft brush, they'll take a small sample of cells from your cervix.
  • The nurse will close and remove the speculum and leave you to get dressed.
  • During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.
  • The sample is tested for changes to the cells of your cervix.
  • Finding abnormal changes early means they can be monitored or treated so they do not get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
  • You'll get your results by letter, usually in about 2 weeks.

Things you can try to make the test easier

If you're worried about cervical screening, there are things you can try that might make the test better for you:


  • Wear something you can leave on during the test, like a skirt or long jumper
  • Bring someone with you for support
  • Breathing exercises to help you relax – ask your nurse about these
  • Ask the nurse to use a smaller speculum
  • Ask the nurse about lying in a different position – such as on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest
  • Bring something to listen to or read during the test


  • Do not feel pressure to keep going – you can ask to stop the test at any time
  • Try not to be afraid or embarrassed to talk to the nurse – telling them how you feel will help them understand what kinds of support you might need

(Information taken from the NHS website)