The UK NSC recommendation on Cervical Cancer screening in women (currently under review)


This recommendation is currently being reviewed as part of the UK NSC's regular review cycle of all policies.

The review process began in Jun 2014 and is estimated to be completed by Nov 2015.

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme recommended
Key downloads

Evidence to support continuation or cessation of existing screening programmes should be reviewed regularly. The process for this is currently being revised, which is why this topic does not currently have a review date. The new process will be published in due course. Each programme has an active portfolio of research, evidence and audit to support continual improvement. Find out more about cervical cancer screening in England.

The UK NSC is commencing a public consultation on whether to change the primary screening test used within the Cervical cancer screening programme.

The programme currently adopts liquid based cytology as the primary screen. The proposal is to replace this with testing for human papillomavirus (HPV) as the primary screening test.

Screening is recommended by the UK NSC. It recommended in November 2012 that the age of first invitation for cervical screening should be raised to 25 in Wales and Scotland on the basis that there is evidence of a large number of women screened and treated with relatively little benefit below this age. Screening for women aged 50-64 should be undertaken five yearly. 

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


Find general information about population health screening.

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 Choices

» Read more about cervical cancer on Cancerbackup

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
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Nursing- Women's Health Forum
Royal College of Pathologists
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Surgeons
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 about the recommendation review process, including the role of stakeholders, can be found in the guide to Engaging with the UK NSC's recommendation review process.

Related documents

icon Appendix 1: Welsh discussion paper on cervical screening policy (PDF document, 638KB, 10/05/12)
icon Appendix 2: Comparison of screening from age 20 and age 25 (PowerPoint presentation, 119KB, 10/05/12)
icon Summary and consultation responses for age of first invitation for cervical screening and frequency of invitation for women aged between 50 to 64 years paper (PDF document, 8.52MB, 11/12/12)

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