When and how often do I need a cervical cancer screening?

Do I need a cervical cancer screening?

The Department of Health recommends all women who have ever had sexual experience and are aged 25-64 years to have regular cervical cancer screening.

How frequent should I have the screening test?

The screening schedule is annually for the first 2 years, and then every 3 years thereafter.

If I have the screening test every year, will I be better protected against developing cervical cancer than if I have the test every 3 years?

Abnormal cervical cells usually take around 5-10 years to develop into cancer, therefore screening at 3-yearly interval is frequent enough to pick up changes before they become malignant.

Studies have shown that screening every 3 years will protect you against cervical cancer. Screening every year results in very little additional reduction in lifetime risk of cervical cancer, and may increase the chance of picking up minor and insignificant problems, which would create unnecessary anxiety for the women. Therefore the overall benefits of annual screening over 3-yearly screening are negligible. On the other hand, routine screening at interval longer than 3 years may not be effective enough to prevent cervical cancer.

For more information on cervical screening, please visit the Department of Health’s Cervical Screening Programme website: www.cervicalscreening.gov.hk.