13 March 2017

Cervical Screening Important Regardless of Sexual Orientation, Says RCGP

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Millions of women every year are appropriately screened for cervical cancer – and it’s safe to say that this national programme is one of the great successes of the modern NHS.

“It’s important for all women who have ever been sexually active to have regular cervical screening tests, sometimes called smear tests, in line with national clinical guidance, regardless of their sexual orientation. The only women who would not potentially benefit from a smear test are those who have never been sexually intimate, in any way, with anyone.

“The human papilloma virus (HPV) can be spread through all kinds of activity, not just during intercourse between a man and a woman. It is a common type of virus with few symptoms that is easily spread. The presence of some forms of the virus can trigger a number of serious conditions including cervical cancer, so whatever we can do to identify concerns as early as possible, should be encouraged. Additionally we encourage all young women to take up the opportunity of the HPV vaccination, to further protect them in future.

“GPs and many members of the practice team – as well as other sexual health professionals – are trained to conduct cervical screening tests. And advising when a test is and isn’t necessary is part of the GP curriculum, which all family doctors must demonstrate competence of in order to practise independently in the UK.

“Cancer is an enduring priority for the RCGP and we have worked with a number of partners, including Cancer Research UK, to develop resources to support GPs and our teams in the early identification, prevention, and treatment of cancer.”  

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7574/7575/7633
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659


The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 50,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.