SHOCK FIGURES: 30 per cent of women not attending potentially life-saving cervical smear tests

Young women across the region are being urged to attend their regular smear tests after shock figures revealed that 30 per cent of those aged 25 to 49 in North Lincolnshire are not doing so.

Thursday, 9th February 2017, 11:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st January 2017, 11:41 am

Young women across the region are being urged to attend their regular smear tests after shock figures revealed that 30 per cent of those aged 25 to 49 in North Lincolnshire are not doing so.

New research reveals that in 2015/16 in North Lincolnshire only 70 per cent of eligible young women had a smear test compared to 79 per cent of women aged 50 to 64.

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. In North Lincolnshire there are between ten and 15 women newly diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.

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 one in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

The research from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) shows that the number of women of all eligible ages having a smear test in North Lincolnshire is decreasing year-on-year. In 2014 78.2 per cent attended and in 2015 only 77.2 per cent of women attended.

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 that women attend all of their cervical screening appointments. 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.

Councillor Carl Sherwood, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “A surprising one in four young women are not attending their cervical screening in North Lincolnshire.

“This is a high percentage and we are urging women of all ages not to ignore their invite for a smear test. Even though the test isn’t for cancer, it could save lives.

“Cervical screening gives women peace of mind and could protect you against anything serious developing.

“If you haven’t had your smear test, don’t put it off any longer – get in touch with you GP as soon as possible.”

Dr Phil Kirby, screening and immunisation lead, NHS England – North (Yorkshire and the Humber) said: “We understand that going for cervical smear test can be daunting but a cervical screen test takes five minutes, is painless, and if you attend each time you’re invited it provides a high degree of protection against developing cervical cancer. It’s actually estimated that early detection and treatment through cervical screening can prevent up to 75 per cent 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.”

* Around three women in the UK die each day from cervical cancer with someone diagnosed every three hours; over 220,000 women a year are told they may have a cervical abnormality; in the UK women aged 25 to 49 are invited for screening every three years and from 50 to 64 every five years.

sophie’s story

Sophie who is 31-years-old and lives in North Lincolnshire found out she had cervical cancer in June 2016, she said:

“I never attended a smear test because I found it embarrassing and daunting.

“I was always too busy with my children and felt there was always something else that came first.

“It was only when I attended my postnatal check after the birth of my last child to discuss contraception I told the midwife I had never had a smear. “The midwife then arranged this for me.

“My results showed I had cervical cancer, which was a huge shock.

“ I found the whole experience quite a shock as you never think it is going to happen to you.

“I felt supported throughout my diagnosis and treatment.

“Following the diagnosis I had a hysterectomy and bilateral groin node dissection.

“It has been a life changing experience.

“Having surgery was quite scary and I only realised after surgery what a big operation I had.

“Post-surgery I immediately found the loss of independence difficult to deal with.

“Now I am fit and well, and back at work.

“I feel fitter than before the surgery and have a lot more drive than before I was diagnosed.

“I wish I had known back then what I know now as I would have attended a smear test and avoided what I have been through.

“I would advise other women to definitely attend their smear test.

“It is a few moments of discomfort.

“The consequences of not attending are far worse that going to see a nurse for a few moments of your time.

“I could kick myself for not going for her smear test earlier.”