Once your cervical screening has been taken it will be reviewed by specialists at a cytology* department, so, the length of time taken to receive your screening results can vary. Make sure you ask when you have your screening, how and when they will let you know your test result.

If there are no abnormalities seen (the test is 'negative') you will be sent a letter confirming the result by your local Health Authority. Sometimes the hospital may contact you with the result. Some GP's request the patient to ring for their result - do check if they would like you to do this. A negative results means you will be recalled for screening in three or five years dependent on where you live and your age.

If the specialist looking at your cervical screening test feels it would be advisable for you to be reviewed by a hospital doctor then they will inform your GP. In some areas there is an agreement between the hospital and the GP's surgeries that the woman is informed by letter directly from the hospital, and an appointment is made and enclosed in the same mailing.

More than nine out of ten screening results are negative [1] and around one in 20 show mild cell changes called mild dyskaryosis. For most women with mild cell changes, the cells will go back to normal without treatment.

One in a 100 test results show moderate cell changes (moderate dyskaryosis) and one in 200 show severe changes (severe dyskaryosis). If your results indicate that you have cell changes, you will be sent for colposcopy to investigate further.

It is extremely rare for cancer to be diagnosed from a cervical screening test. Less than one in a thousand women test results show invasive cancer.


  1. NHS Information Centre (2012) Cervical Screening programme 2011-12 report, 37. https://catalogue.ic.nhs.uk/publications/screening/cervical/cerv-scre-prog-eng-2011-12/cerv-scre-prog-eng-2011-12-rep-v1.1.pdf Accessed 09.04.13.

*Cytology is examination of the cells under a microscope. 

"Results of Screening." Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. N.p., 19 Aug. 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.