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How reliable is cervical screening?

Cervical screening is a very good test for picking up cell changes that can lead to cervical cancer, but it is not perfect.

Although it is rare, the screening test may not pick up cell changes, or even cancer.

Even if you have had no high-risk HPV found on your screening test or you have had normal screening tests in the past, it is very important to report any new symptoms to your doctor. These symptoms include:

  • Bleeding after sex.
  • Bleeding between periods.
  • Bleeding after the menopause.
  • Vaginal discharge that is unusual for you – it may have a different smell, look or consistency (for example, it may be thicker).
  • Pain during or after sex.
  • Lower back or tummy pains.