Women in north Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth are being reminded of the importance of attending regular smear tests, as latest figures reveal that attendance for cervical screening tests is falling, whilst the number of women being diagnosed with cervical cancer is on the rise. NHS Warwickshire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is supporting the #SmearForSmear 2018 campaign, which runs from 22 - 28 January 2018 during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
Nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and two women will lose their lives to the disease in the UK every day. Thanks to cervical screening and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination programme, cervical cancer is now largely preventable – although the number of women attending cervical screening tests is now going down every year.
Latest figures show that the number of cervical screening tests has dropped in north Warwickshire, Nuneaton and Bedworth to 73%, with over 12,200 women not taking up their screening invitation in the last year. The national target is 80%.
Women aged 25 to 49 are invited for cervical screening, also known as a smear test, every three years. After that, women are invited every five years until the age of 64. Since the introduction of cervical screening in the 1980s, the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year across England.
For younger women, HPV vaccinations can help prevent seven out of 10 cervical cancers, and these are routinely given to girls across the country aged 12 and 13. This is a vaccination against the persistent HPV infection that causes abnormal changes to the cervical cells and is responsible for nearly all cervical cancers.
Dr Deryth Stevens, a local GP and Clinical Chair for NHS Warwickshire North CCG, said: “We recognise that cervical screening can be an uncomfortable process for women, but it is a vital step in the prevention of cervical cancer; we urge all women aged 25 – 64 to attend their scheduled screening tests – you can request that the test is carried out by a female doctor or nurse if you prefer, where available. Screening can and does save lives.
Around 1 in 20 women tested show signs of abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix and, whilst most of these changes won’t lead to cancer, it is important they are detected and removed if necessary so that they can’t become cancerous. Prevention is the key to improving survival rates of cervical cancer.”
The #SmearForSmear 2018 campaign is run by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, a UK charity dedicated to women affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. For more information on #SmearForSmear 2018 visit https://www.jostrust.org.uk/