Smear test

 

Diagnosis using a smear test

The cervix is the lowest part of the womb (uterus). It is often called the neck of the womb. A smear test is performed to prevent cervical cancer, not to diagnose cancer. During each test some cells are removed from the cervix, with a plastic brush. The cells are examined under a microscope to look for early changes that, if ignored and not treated, could develop into cancer of the cervix.

What to expect during a smear test

You will be asked to remove your clothing from the waist down or if you are wearing a loose skirt you may be asked to remove your underwear only. You will be asked to lie on your back on the examination couch and bend your knees, put your ankles together, and let your knees fall open. A speculum will be inserted into your vagina. This gently opens the vagina and allows the cervix to be seen (at the top of the vagina). A thin plastic stick with a small brush at the end is then used to gently scrape some cells from the surface of the cervix. The cells that are obtained on the brush are examined in the laboratory.

Cervical screening tests are not painful, although some women find the speculum uncomfortable. It generally helps if you can relax – this makes the experience better for you.

Meet our doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Search for a centre near you

Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UA

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Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton Coldfield, B74 3BF

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Nottingham

The Park Centre for oncology, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Nottingham, NG5 8RX

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Portsmouth

Bartons Road, Havant, PO9 5NA

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Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, GU1 3XL

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Southampton

Spire Hospital, Chalybeate Close, Southampton, SO16 6UY

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Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 7GU

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Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, WD6 3SZ

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Oxford

Sandy Lane West, Peters Way, Oxford, OX4 6LB

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Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, MK14 6LS

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Newmarket

The Oaks, Fordham Road, Newmarket, CB8 7XN

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Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

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