Quarter of women miss potentially life-saving screening test

Date: 19 Jan 2018

Category: Campaign

A quarter of women across Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire failed to attend their potentially life-saving cervical cancer screening.

NHS health chiefs are urging women aged between 25 and 64 to attend their smear test when they are invited to do so by their GP.

Women aged 25 to 49 are offered the test every three years, and then every five years until the age of 64.

Nationally, the number of women dying from cervical cancer has halved over the past 28 years as a result of the NHS screening programme as well as improvement in treatment.

Despite this success, over 5,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Some of these women diagnosed with cervical cancer have delayed coming forward for screening which has impacted on their ability to have early changes treated.

"We are well aware that cervical cancer screening is one of the more intrusive tests, but it is important you attend – it could save your life. One of the common misconceptions around cervical cancer is that if you received the HPV vaccine you don’t need to attend your cervical screening, this is not the case so please do not ignore your invite. The screening takes just a few minutes to complete and will identify abnormal cells before they become cancerous. This allows treatment to take place before the cancer develops. Please make sure your local GP has your most up to date address so they are able to send out the screening invitation."

- Dr Alison Wint, local GP and clinical lead for cancer

"Cervical cancer is largely preventable with cervical screening (smear tests) providing the best protection against the disease. Screening prevents up to 75% of cervical cancers yet the number of women attending is at a 20 year low in England, with around 1 in 4 women in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire missing their test. There are many reasons women don’t attend ranging from simply putting it off to worrying it will be embarrassing or painful to not knowing what the test is and why it’s important. During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week we want to encourage women to talk to their friends, mothers and daughters about the steps they can take to reduce their risk of cervical cancer."

- Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

Embarrassment and a lack of understanding of the causes of cervical cancer are among some of the reasons for women do not attending their screening. To find out more about cervical cancer screening please visit Jo’s Trust website.

BNSSG CCGs are supporting Jo’s Trust #SmearforSmear campaign (22 January – 28 January).

NHS Choices - Cervical Cancer