Book a smear test urges NHS as screening numbers decline

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Home » Book a smear test urges NHS as screening numbers decline

With the number of women going for a cervical screening test falling year-on-year, the NHS is urging women to prioritise their health this Cervical Screening Awareness Week (19 to 25 June 2023) and book smear test when invited.

Cervical cancer is  the most common cancer in women under the age of 35. Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by an infection from certain types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). It can often be prevented by attending a cervical screening, also known as a smear test or pap test, which detects abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

Figures show that across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, the number of women attending screening tests has fallen year-on-year, with only 67% of 25–49-year-olds taking up their offer in 2022. In Luton, the figures are even starker with just 57% of women 25-49 attending regular screening appointments.

Carol Pittam, Cytology Lead for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board, and a practice nurse in Milton Keynes said:

“Regular cervical screening is the first line of defence against cervical cancer. It can identify cancer cells at an early stage and improve a woman’s chances of a complete recovery.

“We understand that some women may be anxious about their appointment and that’s completely normal. We would encourage people to contact their surgery if they are worried and the team will talk them through the process and provide any additional support they need.

Carol added:

“Screening is undertaken by female clinicians and people are welcome to bring along someone they trust to stay with them during an appointment if they wish.

“It is incredibly important to book an appointment when people receive their invitation. If all eligible women attended cervical screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer deaths could be prevented. Screening really does save lives.”

Cervical screening is offered every three years to women aged 25 to 49, and every five years for women aged 50 to 64.

Cervical cancer can develop at any age, and women should report any unusual symptoms or concerns to their GP.

For more information about cervical cancer and smear tests, visit the NHS website.

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