Cervical Cancer Screening | Western Cape Government

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Cervical Cancer Screening


Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in South African after breast cancer.

Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. All women should have a pap smear at least every 10 years starting at age 30 years. This means at around 30, 40 and 50 years of age.

The screening programme aims at finding and treating early signs of cancer of the cervix, commonly known as the "mouth of the womb". The screening involves taking a pap (or cervical) smear, which is a simple, quick vaginal examination to check if the cervix is healthy. Some cells are gently wiped off the cervix and sent to the laboratory for testing.

The early detection of abnormal cells means further investigations can be done and treatment can be given if necessary, thereby preventing cancer from developing.

Sometimes, results are unclear and a repeat smear is necessary. Women who have had the test must go back to the clinic to get the laboratory results.

Remember, the client is entitled to ask for an explanation of the procedure beforehand.

Cervical cancer can be prevented by avoiding multiple sex partners, using condoms to prevent the spread of human papillomavirus (which has been linked to cervical cancer), postponing first sexual intercourse until older, and not smoking cigarettes.


Go to your local primary health care clinic. If a pap smear result is abnormal, a booking will be made and a referral letter given for further testing and treatment at a secondary or tertiary level hospital. The client will then be referred back to the clinic for follow-up visits.

If you are a first-time visitor to a health facility, you will be asked to fill out a form and a folder will be opened. Bring your ID book, referral letter (if relevant), any medication you are taking and your clinic/hospital card, if previously registered at the facility.

Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (Western Cape Government)

A woman can get three free screening pap smears in her lifetime, one every 10 years starting at age 30.

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The content on this page was last updated on 26 February 2020