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24th Feb 2021

Home smear tests to be trialled by thousands in the UK

Over 30,000 women in the UK will be offered a “do-it-at-home” smear test in a bid to tackle cervical cancer.

The NHS are trialling a new system where women receive “do-it-at-home” smear tests. Experts are hoping it could be a way for more women to get screened and check for early signs of cervical cancer. There’s many barriers that stop women from receiving regular smear tests; embarrassment, cultural barriers, and concerns over COVID are just a few of the reasons why women could avoid going for regular smear tests at a clinic or GP surgery.

Experts behind this trial believe it’s a “game-changer” and could be “life-saving” for many women. National clinical director for cancer for the NHS, Prof Peter Johnson said: “GPs have taken extra precautions to make surgeries safe. And these home kits give thousands of women another option to keep up to date with their screening.”

Self-sampling is already present in Australia and Denmark and the first women in the UK who will be offered this will be aged between-25-64, overdue for a check, and living in the London boroughs of Barnet, Camden, Islington, Newham or Tower Hamlets.

The at-home kits check for an infection known as the human papillomavirus or HPV, which causes most forms of cervical cancer, if this is shown to be present the women will then be invited to their GP for a standard smear test to closely examine the cells of their cervix.

The study will run until December 2021 and if successful, could be rolled out across the rest of England.