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Inappropriate and ‘out of programme’ samples

Recall intervals for cervical screening

Current guidance on inappropriate tests and symptomatic women is given in the NHSCSP guidelines, Colposcopy & Programme Management Publication No.20, Third Edition, March 2016.

  • Routine 3 yearly recall between the ages of 24 years, 6 months to 49 years inclusive, unless previously invited by the Scottish, Welsh or Irish screening programmes
  • Routine 5 yearly recall between the ages of 50 to 64 years inclusive
  • Cease cervical screening at age 65 years, only screen those who:

i) Have never had a screening test and now request one

ii) Did not attend for their lest test when aged 60 or over and now wish to have that final test

iii) If the last 3 tests included an abnormal result and/or she is on follow-up for treatment of CIN/CGIN/invasive cancer

iv) Over 65 and had fewer than 3 consecutive negative tests

Abnormal looking cervix

If there is a clinical suspicion of cervical disease, cytology is not the appropriate test to investigate the symptoms. The woman should be referred urgently to colposcopy for investigation under the two-week-wait rule

Young women with abnormal bleeding

Women below the screening age range who present with symptoms such as postcoital bleeding or intermenstrual bleeding should be managed as per the latest recommendations in Clinical Practice Guidance for the Assessment of Young Women aged 20-24 with Abnormal Vaginal Bleeding. Cervical cytology does not form part of this management pathway. Note, this includes women under the age of 20 years.

gynae images


(Last reviewed November 16th 2017)