16 January 2019
Official figures show that the proportion of women attending cervical cancer screenings has hit a 21 year low, as experts warn the disease is on the rise. NHS figures show that only 71.4% of women invited for screening attended, a drop from 73.7% in 2011.[i]
Now cancer charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is hoping to increase awareness with a SmearForSmear campaign, encouraging women who have taken their test to picture themselves on social media with part of their make-up smeared across their face.
It will run throughout Cervical Cancer Prevention Week from 21 to 27 January with the charity hoping that one woman’s post might just provide encouragement to other women and remind them of the importance of being screened.
Dr Paul Dewart, a Consultant Gynaecologist at Spire Edinburgh Hospitals said:
“The cervical smear test detects changes to the cells in the cervix at an early stage which if left untreated could progress into cervical cancer, it is estimated that cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives every year in the UK. Every woman living in this country has the opportunity to benefit from the UK screening programme which is one of the best cervical screening programmes in the world, but that success depends on you having your smear when it is due.”
Women aged 25 to 49 are invited to attend cervical screening, or smear tests, every three years; those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years. The screening can detect abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in the cervix in order to prevent cervical cancer.
Dr Dewart added:
“I hope that this campaign is successful, because regular routine smear testing detects early pre-cancerous abnormalities and definitely saves lives. Everyone should be encouraged to look after their health, it is one of our greatest assets, and smear tests are a proven way to prevent a very distressing and potentially life threatening cervical cancer.”
[i] Digitalnhsuk. 2019. NHS Digital. [Online]. [15 January 2019]. Available from: https://digital.nhs.uk/data-and-information/publications/statistical/cervical-screening-programme/england---2017-18