The UK NSC recommendation on Cervical Cancer screening in women

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme recommended
Last review completed April 2019
Next review due in 2022/23
Key downloads

Find general information about population health screening.

Why is screening recommended by UK NSC?

The reasons the UK NSC recommended changing to HPV as the primary cervical screening test are that:

  • the HPV vaccination offered to girls aged 12 to 13 strengthens the rationale for primary HPV screening. The vaccination will offer prevention of HPV and result in a falling number of women who remain at risk of catching HPV and developing cervical cancer
  • a primary test for HPV will save more lives by determining a woman’s risk earlier. The UK NSC recommends that the screening interval for HPV based screening should be five years
  • HPV testing means that if the woman tested does not have high risk HPV, her chances of developing a cancer within five years are very small

A number of Questions and Answers have been written to help explain the rationale for starting screening at age 25 rather than 20.

More about Cervical Cancer

The cervix is the lower part (or neck) of the womb, made of muscle tissue. It is the entrance to the womb from the vagina. Cancer of the cervix is a relatively rare type of cancer. In the UK, approximately 2,800 women are diagnosed with it each year.

» Read more about cervical cancer on NHS UK

Screening in the UK

Compare how screening is offered across the UK.


The British Association for Cancer Research
British Association for Cytopathology
British Association of Surgical Oncology
The British Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology
Cancer Research UK
Faculty of Public Health
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust
Northern Ireland Cancer Network
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Nursing
Royal College of Nursing- Women's Health Forum
Royal College of Pathologists
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Radiologists
Royal College of Surgeons
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Society and College of Radiographers

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

Related documents

icon Evidence summary- cervical cancer (2015) (PDF document, 392KB, 02/01/20)

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