Facts about screening for cervical cancer

All women in Denmark between age 23 and 64 are invited for cervical cancer screening at regular intervals. For women between 23 and 49 years old, invitations are issued every 3 years, for women 50 and 64 years old, every five years.

Cervical screening is the best modality for early detection of abnormal cells in the cervix, possibly being pre-cursors of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer screening is a free-of-charge health care offer to all women living in Denmark. 

The connection between HPV and cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted virus. Almost all adults who has been or are sexually active will have encountered HPV at some point in their life. Most HPV infections are naturally cleared by the immune system. 

Yet, for some women, the HPV infection becomes persistent, which again can lead to abnormal cells and in rare cases cervical cancer. Abnormal cells and cervical dysplasia are typically asymptomatic. Cervical cancer screening is therefore the best way to detect any abnormalities.  

How the HPV-test is done

When you have received the screening invitation, you book a consultation with your General Practitioner. The GP will perform a gynecological examination and take a small cell sample from the cervix. In some countries this sample is referred to as a “smear”. 

Your GP will inform you of the result of your test once the laboratory analysis is complete, which is typically within 10 work days. More than 90 % of all women have normal smears. Some will experience their sample result to be inadequate, eliciting the request for a new sample.

What happens next

If your smear is normal, you do not need to do anything further. An automatic invitation will be issued to you upon your next interval. 

Cervical abnormal cells are not cancer and often regress naturally. However, if the cervical cell changes are left untreated, they may develop into cancer. Hence, if your smear contains abnormal calls, you will be referred to follow-up.

Your protection against cervical cancer

Cervical screening is your protection against cervical cancer, even if you have received the HPV vaccination. The vaccine only protects against the most prevalent HPV types that can cause cervical cancer. 

You should always contact your GP if you have any symptoms or physical discomfort in your abdomen.

Further questions

For questions, feel free to contact the secretary for cervical cancer screening on phone 38 62 21 34 Monday-Friday from 8.00-15.30.