Cervical Cancer Screening | Western Cape Government

Cervical Cancer Screening


Cervical CancerCervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in South Africa 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, and then at age 40 and 50.

The screening programme aims to find and treat early signs of cancer of the cervix, commonly known as the "mouth of the womb". The screening involves taking a pap (or cervical) smear, 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.

Early detection of abnormal cells means that further investigations can be conducted and, if necessary, treatment provided, 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 sexual partners,
  • using condoms to prevent the spread of human papillomavirus (HPV) (which is linked to cervical cancer),
  • postponing first sexual intercourse until older,
  • through vaccination with the HPV vaccine,
  • increasing physical activity,
  • maintaining a healthy weight,
  • avoiding harmful use of alcohol, and
  • not using tobacco products. 

Women with HIV infection generally have a higher risk of developing cervical cancer.


Go to your local primary health care clinic. If a pap smear result is abnormal, they will make a booking for you and give you a referral letter for further testing and treatment at a secondary or tertiary level hospital. They will then refer you to the clinic for follow-up visits.

If you are a first-time visitor to a health facility, you need to fill out a form, and the health facility will open a folder for you. 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.

The content on this page was last updated on 9 September 2022