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Results and recommendations

People get their results letter by post, usually within 4 weeks. The practice or clinic where they had their screening test will also get a copy of the results.

The laboratory will make a recommendation on the next steps for a person based on their results.

These are usually:

We will send a failsafe request if a person has not had their repeat test or referral within 2 months of the due date.

Read more information about cervical screening results

Download the HPV Primary Screening Algorithm (PDF, 1 page, 115KB)

Sample screening results letters

Samples of screening results letters that a person will receive a few weeks after their cervical screening test has been taken and processed.

HPV not found - recommendation for routine recall (PDF, 1 page, 90KB)

HPV found no abnormal cell changes found - recommendation repeat test in 12 months (PDF, 1 page, 100KB)

HPV found and abnormal cell changes found - recommendation referral to colposcopy (PDF, 1 page, 70KB)

HPV test inadequate - recommendation repeat test in 3 months (PDF, 1 page, 90KB)

Why a sample may be inadequate

A sample may be inadequate because:

  • the sample was not suitable for HPV testing
  • not enough cells were collected
  • the cells could not be seen clearly enough
  • inflammation was present
  • the sample has expired
  • the sample may have been mislabeled
  • the vial (tube the sample is put in) has expired
  • the vial has been damaged

Expired vial

Vials have expiry dates. The lab will not process a vial passed this expiry date.

Screening test kits have at least 18 months before expiry. Rotating the stock of smear test kits – always using the ones you get first – avoids expired vials.

Vials should be sent at least 10 days before their expiry date. This is to allow for transit and processing at the laboratory.

Expired sample

A sample must be processed within 42 days from the date it was taken.

Samples should be sent to the lab for processing within 5 days of the test date. This will avoid expiry of samples.

Other recommendations

No abnormal cells found but gynaecology referral recommended

If abnormal bleeding, or any other anomalies, is indicated on the Cervical Screening Form, the lab will recommend that you refer the person for gynaecological tests.

Endometrial cells

If a woman is over the age of 40, the lab must say if endometrial cells are present. This is a requirement of Bethesda reporting.

There is a very small chance that the presence of endometrial cells may indicate endometrial pathology. The presence of endometrial cells should be interpreted clinically based on the woman’s menstrual history and examination.

Resources on results and recommendations

Guidance notes

Guidance note 3 — Expired vials & screening test repeated before the minimum interval (PDF, 1 page, 30KB)

Reference documents

Training courses are also available to those taking cervical screening tests as part of CervicalCheck.

Is cuid den tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Scagthástála é CervicalCheck
Bosca Oifig Phoist 161, Luimneach
Saorghlao 1800 45 45 55
CervicalCheck is part of the National Cancer Screening Service
PO Box 161 Limerick
Freephone 1800 45 45 55

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Is cuid den Rannóg Sláinte agus Folláine i bhFeidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte í an tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Scagthástála. Cuimsíonn sí BreastCheck – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Cíoch, CervicalCheck – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Ceirbheacs, BowelScreen – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Putóige agus Diabetic RetinaScreen – An Clár Náisiúnta Scagthástála Reitiní do Dhiaibéitigh.

The National Screening Service is part of the Health and Wellbeing Division of the Health Service Executive. It encompasses BreastCheck – The National Breast Screening Programme, CervicalCheck – The National Cervical Screening Programme, BowelScreen – The National Bowel Screening Programme and Diabetic RetinaScreen – The National Diabetic Retinal Screening Programme.