The cervix

The cervix and cervical screening

The cervix is the lower part of the womb (uterus) and is often called the neck of the womb.

It’s possible for your doctor or nurse to see and feel the cervix during an internal (vaginal) examination.

Illustration of the cervix and the surrounding structures
Illustration of the cervix and the surrounding structures

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The surface of the outside of the cervix is covered with flat cells called squamous cells. The cervical canal (endocervix) is lined with longer cells called columnar cells or glandular cells, which produce mucus. The area where these cells meet is known as the transformation zone. Cells in this transformation zone can become abnormal. It is these cells, on the surface of the cervix, that are examined in a cervical screening test.

Cervix transformation zone
Cervix transformation zone

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Back to Cervical screening

What is cervical screening?

Cervical screening can help stop cancer developing in the cervix by finding abnormal cells early.

Preparing for having a cervical screening test

A cervical screening test is a very simple procedure and takes less than five minutes.

Getting your cervical screening results

You should get your results within about two weeks of having your cervical screening test.

Your feelings about cervical screening

People react differently to their screening results. There is no right or wrong way to feel.

Cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN)

Cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) is a term used to describe changes in the surface (squamous) cells of the cervix.

Diagnosing CIN

A colposcopy is used to confirm whether you have cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia (CIN) and how severe it might be.

Grading CIN

Knowing the grade of CIN will help your specialist plan the best treatment for you.

Treating CIN

If you have been diagnosed with CIN, you may have treatment to remove the abnormal cells. There are different types of treatment.

After treatment for CIN

Most women feel fine after treatment for CIN but some may feel unwell for a few hours. You will be referred for regular screening tests.