Alarming figures reveal one in five women not attending cervical screening test

Stock pic GP Doctors NHS
Stock pic GP Doctors NHS

The latest statistics from NHS Digital have alarmingly revealed that last year one in five (22%) women in Calderdale aged 25-64 who are eligible for a cervical screening test did not book in or attend their smear test.

The data has found that the numbers of women in Calderdale attending in the younger age group (25-49) continues to fall year-on-year.

In the 25-49 age group, 76.7% attended in 2015 and 76.4% attended in 2016.

Calderdale Council is urging all young women to attend their cervical smear test when invited – it could save lives.

The Council’s Director of Public Health, Paul Butcher, said: “It’s worrying that 22% of women in Calderdale, aged 25-64, are choosing not to have a test which could save their lives.

“We know that people are busy, but finding time for a cervical screening is so important.”

Cervical screening isn’t a test for cancer; it’s a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix (the entrance to the womb). Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. Dr Nigel Taylor, a GP in Mytholmroyd and Calderdale CCG’s Cancer Lead, said: “It’s vitally important that all women who’re eligible for cervical screening have it.

“The cervical smear test identifies changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer if left untreated, and given that in many cases there aren’t any symptoms in the early stages, it’s vitally important that women are screened.

“Around 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year, and I really want to encourage all eligible women to have a smear test regularly, to keep healthy.”

The symptoms of cervical cancer aren’t always obvious, and it may not cause any symptoms at all until it’s reached an advanced stage.

In most cases, vaginal bleeding is the first noticeable symptom of cervical cancer.

It usually occurs after having sex. Bleeding at any other time, other than your expected monthly period, is also considered unusual. Other symptoms of cervical cancer may include pain and discomfort during sex and an unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge.

Dr Yasmin Khan – Associate Medical Director at NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “For some people the thought of going for a cervical smear test can be embarrassing, often people think it’s painful, or it can seem a scary or daunting prospect for other reasons.

“However, the test takes five minutes, it’s painless, and you really can’t put a price on taking the right steps early on to protect your health.

“It’s actually estimated that early detection and treatment through cervical screening can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers from developing in the UK.

“Therefore we want to urge all women who are eligible to attend their smear when they are invited, or book one if they’ve missed their last smear test by calling their GP.”

For more information about cervical cancer and the NHS Cervical Screening Programme visit http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-cervix