The National Cervical Screening Programme (NCSP) will be changing the recommended starting age for cervical screening from 20 to 25 years in 2019.
The decision to change the cervical screening start age has been made because there is a strong body of evidence that screening women between 20 and 24 years of age provides little benefit to women and has the potential to cause harm.
Screening women who are aged 20 to 24 has been shown to be ineffective at preventing cervical cancer. Since the start of the NCSP in 1990, there has been no reduction in rates of cervical cancer for women under 25 years old despite significant reductions in both cancer incidence and mortality for women older than 25 years of age.
How this change will affect women
From November 2019, women will be invited to join the cervical screening programme as they turn 25 years of age.
Invitations to be screened will continue to come from primary care providers. Women can be invited from 6 months before they turn 25.
Women who are already screening and are under 25
Women aged 20-24 years who have already started screening will continue to be offered screening in accordance with the current programme guidelines.
Women under 25 with concerning symptoms
Women who have symptoms, such as abnormal vaginal bleeding, persistent discharge or pelvic pain, should see their health care provider who will arrange appropriate investigation.
If you would like more information on this change please visit Time to Screen here.