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HealthInfo Canterbury

Cervical screening & cervical smears

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A cervical smear is a test that takes a sample of cells from the surface of your cervix (the neck of your womb). Laboratory staff then look at these cells under a microscope to look for any changes that could show if there is cancer there, or that could lead to cancer if not treated.

To do the test, a doctor or nurse looks at your cervix using an instrument called a speculum, which they put into your vagina. They use a small brush to pick up a few cells, which they then send to the laboratory.

Smear tests are part of a national screening programme in New Zealand, and are available for all women aged from 20 to 70. Having a smear test every three years can reduce your chance of getting cervical cancer by 90%.

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The resources include the pamphlet Cervical smear tests – what women need to know, which is also available in Māori, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean, Hindi, Japanese and New Zealand Sign Language (video).

On the next page: Treatment after an abnormal smear

Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Endorsed by clinical director. Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed February 2018. Last updated July 2019.


See also:

Understanding your cervical smear results

Page reference: 41513

Review key: HICES-20461