ONE out of four local women do not attend cervical screening (smear tests) and this is something NHS Tameside and Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is campaigning to change.
Cervical screening usually takes place every three to five years depending on a woman’s age and risk factors such as family and medical history.
The most recent data for ages 25-64 attending cervical screening within the target period of 3½ or 5½ year coverage in Tameside and Glossop is 74% compared to 72% overall in England.
As part of Cervical Screening Awareness Week (20-26 June), NHS Tameside and Glossop CCG is urging women to make sure they attend their cervical screening.
All women and people with a cervix aged 25-64, registered with a GP practice in Tameside and Glossop, are urged to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter and to book an appointment with their GP practice or sexual health clinic if they missed their last screening.
Two women die every day from cervical cancer in England, yet it is one of the most preventable cancers. Around 2,700 women in England are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and it is the second most common cancer amongst women under 35.
Cervical screening helps prevent cervical cancer by checking for a virus called high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes nearly all cervical cancers. This is the best way to find out who is at higher risk of developing the cervical cell changes that over time could potentially lead to cervical cancer. Any cervical cell changes can be treated, preventing cervical cancer.
Those who have HPV should not be alarmed, as it does not mean they have cervical cancer - HPV is a common virus that most people will get at some point during their lives.
The HPV vaccine is offered to girls and boys in school year eight (those aged 12 to 13 years, born after 1 September 2006) as part of the NHS vaccination programme, to protect against the most common types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
However, even if women have been vaccinated it's important that they attend their cervical screening appointment because the HPV vaccine doesn't prevent all cervical cancers.
The symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious, and it may not cause any symptoms at all until it's reached an advanced stage. That's why it's important to attend all cervical screening appointments.
Drs Asad Ali and Ashwin Ramachandra, co-chairs at NHS Tameside and Glossop CCG, said:
“Life can be hectic and it's easy to let your cervical screening appointment fall to the bottom of your 'to do' list, but it only lasts a few minutes - it’s a few minutes that could save your life.
“For most, cervical screening tests are not painful. However, if you are worried that you may find the test uncomfortable, remember you are in control and can ask to stop at any time. If you are worried about it being uncomfortable, embarrassed about cervical screening, or you have found screening difficult in the past, talk to the nurse or doctor doing the test so they can give you the right support and help put you at ease.
“Encourage those you love to get screened if they are overdue a test.”
For further information please visit nhs.uk/cervicalscreening