One in five women don’t go for smear tests when they are invited – even though it could save their lives.
Health campaigners are raising awareness and urging women to get tested as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which runs from 19 to 25 January.
“The aim is to increase the understanding about cervical screening and take-up of screening because it can save lives,” said Dr David Kelly, Chair of NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group, the commissioning body responsible for healthcare in north Kirklees.
“Every day in the UK nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three women will lose their lives to the disease.
“But many of those deaths are preventable because cervical screening, with a simple smear test, enables women to receive treatment before it is too late. We want more women to take advantage of screening but the number taking up appointments is going down instead of up. The message is simple: don’t ignore your smear test.”
Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is run by the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Every year in the UK more than 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and nearly 1,000 will die from it. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under.
In most cases, cervical cancer is caused by a virus and although four out of five (80%) of people – men as well as women- will be infected with it at some time in their lives most will not develop cancer. Those that do develop cancer can usually be cured if the disease is diagnosed in time.
There are usually no symptoms with abnormal cells in their pre-cancerous state and sometimes no symptoms in the early stages of cervical cancer. However, there are some recognised symptoms associated with the disease. These include abnormal bleeding, vaginal discharge, discomfort or pain during sex and lower back pain.
If you are experiencing any or all of these symptoms or are concerned about any new symptom you should make an appointment to see your GP as soon as possible. Remember, these symptoms can be associated with many other conditions that are not cancer related.
For more information about symptoms and cervical cancer generally visit www.jostrust.org.uk.