Cervical screening saves lives

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This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week and health leaders are raising awareness of the life-saving smear test.

Cervical screening (a smear test) is the best protection against cervical cancer, yet more than a quarter of those invited don’t take up their invitation.

Local doctors would like to remind and encourage women to attend their cervical screening.

Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease, which is 2 deaths every day. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.

Dr Neil Smith, GP and cancer director for Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “Cervical screening checks the health of your cervix. It is not a test for cancer, it’s a test to help prevent cancer by detecting early abnormalities in the cervix, so they can be treated. If these abnormalities are left untreated, they can lead to cancer of the cervix (the neck of the womb). I would recommend that every woman invited should have the test. We know that on average cervical screening helps save the lives of approximately 4,500 women in England every year.

“The word cancer can create fear and negative emotions. By talking about it we identify these feelings, and it helps to put things into perspective. Making cancer part of everyday conversations encourages people to attend appointments for cancer screening and tests or hospital reviews for suspected cancer.”

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under. Despite this, more than 20 per cent of women invited for screening do not attend. Cervical screening can prevent around 45% of cervical cancer cases in women in their 30s, rising with age to 75 per cent in women in their 50s and 60s, who attend regularly.

As well as attending screening when you are invited, other signs to look out for include any abnormal bleeding or unpleasant discharge or pain after sex. If you notice anything unusual, make an appointment to see your doctor and get it checked out.

More information about cervical screening and cervical cancer: