A new trial has found urine testing was as good at detecting a virus called HPV that is a big risk factor for cervical cancer.
Experts have said that self-testing could become a game-changer for women.
NHS figures show that the number of women going for smear tests is down to 71%, which means several million women across England have not had a smear test for at least three and a half years.
Smear tests can detect early, abnormal cell changes before a cancer develops.
Lead researcher, Dr Emma Crosbie said:
We’re really very excited by this study, which we think has the potential to significantly increase participation rates for cervical cancer screening.
Campaigns to encourage women to attend cervical screening have helped. The brilliant campaign by the late Jade Goody increased numbers attendance by around 400,000 women.
But sadly, the effects aren’t long lasting and participation rates tend to fall back after a while. We clearly need a more sustainable solution.”
She noted that larger trials of the urine test were still needed before it could be recommended to the NHS.
BBC News. (2019). Urine test to end ‘smear fear’. Accessible: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-48092561. Last Accessed: 29 April 2019.