Cervical Screening Programme
Department of Health
The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region

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  • All women who ever had sex should have regular cervical cancer screening starting from the age of 25.
  • If your first cervical smear result is normal, you should have the second smear 1 year later.
  • If your second smear result is also normal, you should repeat smears every 3 years.
  • If you have any symptom (such as abnormal vaginal bleeding), you should see a doctor promptly, even if your last smear result was normal.

Overseas studies show that screening every 3 years will protect you against cervical cancer.

[When should you have the smear ]

Abnormal cervical cells usually take around 5-10 years to develop into cancer. Therefore, screening at 3-yearly interval is frequent enough to pick up changes before they become serious. The International Agency for Research on Cancer obtained data from cervical programme in developed countries and found that the benefits of annual screening over 3-yearly screening are negligible, but the costs are considerably higher. On the other hand, screening at interval longer than 3 years is not effective enough to prevent cervical cancer.

Effectiveness of different cervical cancer screening programme:

Interval between screening Reduction in cumulative incidence
1 year 93.5%
2 years 92.5%
3 years 90.8%
5 years 83.6%
10 years 64.1%

(Source: BMJ 1986; 293: 659-64)

You should avoid having a cervical smear during your period.

If you have any symptoms, like abnormal vaginal bleeding, see a doctor promptly, even if your last cervical smear was normal. Don't wait until your next cervical smear.

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