Women in North Yorkshire urged to have their smear tests as one in five do not attend
The latest statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC)[i] has alarmingly revealed that more than one in five (21%) of women aged 25-64 in North Yorkshire are not booking in and turning up to a smear test.
The data also finds that women in the older age group (50-64) are less likely to attend, as 81.1% attended in 2014 dropping to 80.9% in 2015. This Cervical Screening Awareness Week (Monday 13 June to Sunday 19 June 2016) Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) across North Yorkshire are urging all women to pick up the phone when they receive an appointment letter and book their smear test in - it could save their life.
Janet Probert, Chief Officer of NHS Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby Clinical Commissioning Group said:
"On behalf of our partner CCGs across North Yorkshire, I cannot express enough the importance of attending cervical screening - the procedure only takes 10 minutes. Whilst it can be a little uncomfortable, if cell changes are caught early, it can save lives.
"Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35. If you're over the age of 25 we urge you to make an appointment if you haven't already received your routine screening.
"If you have any anxiety or questions about cervical screening, your GP practice will able to provide you with additional information."
As part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, women aged 25-49 are invited to attend cervical screening (or a smear test) at their GP practice every three years, and women aged 50-64 are invited to attend every five years. 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.
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. This is why it's very important for women to attend all of their cervical screening appointments.
Dr Phil Kirby, Screening and Immunisation Lead, NHS England (North Yorkshire and the Humber) said: "Every year in the UK, over 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under.
"We know that having a smear test can feel like a bit of an embarrassing prospect, but the test only takes three minutes and you really can't put a price on being proactive and preventative about your own 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 and ensure they stay healthy."
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "Over 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK and every day we see the devastating impact a diagnosis has on women, their family and friends.
"It is estimated that the cervical screening programme saves around 4,500 lives a year in England so it is very concerning to see that uptake in North Yorkshire and the Humber has decreased across every age group. I urge all eligible women in the area to take up their screening invitation when invited, it could save their life and take us closer to a future free from cervical cancer."
For more information about the NHS Cervical Screening Programme visit www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cervical-screening-test
For more information about cervical cancer and symptoms visit Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust's website www.jostrust.org.uk