Cervical Screening Wales is extending the routine screening interval for people with a cervix aged 25-to-49 from three to five years, if Human papillomavirus (HPV) is not found in their cervical screening (smear) test.

This follows a recommendation from the UK National Screening Committee in 2019, bringing the advice for this age group in line with the screening interval for those aged 50-64.

This change came into effect on 1st January 2022 and means that result letters sent from this date will advise recipients that their next appointment will follow in five years, if certain conditions apply.

HPV testing was successfully introduced in Wales in 2018 and almost nine-out-of-10 results show no high-risk HPV.

Heather Lewis, Consultant in Public Health for Cervical Screening Wales, explained, ‘The HPV test we now use in Wales is more effective at identifying people at higher risk of developing cell changes which can cause cervical cancer.

‘The evidence shows that it is therefore safe to extend the time between cervical screening tests for people who do not have HPV identified.’

There are around 160 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed every year in Wales and it is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35.  Cell changes found through regular cervical screening can be treated to prevent a cancer developing.