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Cervical screening aged 65 or over

If you are aged 65 or over, you will no longer be invited for cervical screening (a smear test) unless you are being followed up for cell changes (abnormalities). You may feel worried or anxious about this, but it is because the benefits of cervical screening start to become less as we get older.

Why do I stop getting invited for cervical screening when I turn 65?

Cervical cancer usually develops very slowly. In fact, it’s estimated that it takes between 10 and 20 years for a high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) infection to develop into cell changes and then into cervical cancer. Because it develops so slowly, it is very unlikely you will develop cervical cancer if you are 65 and have gone for cervical screening when invited:

  • In England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, you won’t get any more invites once you turn 65, if you had 3 normal results at your last 3 cervical screenings. If you had an abnormal result after any of your last 3 screenings, you will continued to be invited until you have 3 normal results in a row or have no sign of HPV (HPV negative).
  • In Wales, you won’t get any more invites once you turn 65 if you had a normal result at your last cervical screening.

What if I have never been for cervical screening?

If you are 65 or older and have never had cervical screening, you are entitled to a test. If you want, you can book an appointment with your GP surgery.

What if I have symptoms?

It is important to be aware of the symptoms of cervical cancer, including:

  • bleeding after the menopause (post-menopausal bleeding)
  • pain or feeling uncomfortable during sex
  • vaginal discharge that is unusual for you – for example, it being thicker or smelling bad
  • unexplained lower back pain that lasts for a long time.

All of these symptoms can be things other than cervical cancer, but if you have any, see your doctor or nurse and get them checked out.

Read more about the symptoms of cervical cancer >

More information and support

You may feel worried about not having to go for cervical screening anymore or like the healthcare system has abandoned you. Remember that this is not the case and we are still here for you. If you want to chat things through, call our Helpline on 0808 802 8000.

Date last updated: 
23 Oct 2018
Date due for review: 
23 Oct 2021

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