The local NHS in West Lancashire is urging women to attend a cervical screening test when they receive their invitation.
The message from NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) on cervical screening comes as National Cervical Cancer Prevention Week gets underway (25 – 31 January).
In England, women aged between 25 and 64 are eligible for a free NHS cervical screening every three to five years.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under with more than two deaths from the cancer occurring every day, yet around 20 per cent of women do not attend their cervical screening. One in three young women aged 25-29 fail to attend their screening when invited.
Screening, also known as a smear test, is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix; not a check for cancer. Most women’s test results show nothing abnormal, but for around one in 20 women the test will show some changes in the cells of the cervix.
It is possible to have cervical cancer without having any symptoms which makes screening even more important. Symptoms to look out for include:
• Abdominal bleeding
• Post-menopausal bleeding
• Unusual discharge
• Discomfort/pain during sex
• Lower back pain
It is recommended that women who are between the ages of 25 and 49 are screened every three years, and women between the ages of 50 and 64 are screened every five years.
To receive your invitation, you need to make sure you are registered with a GP and your contact details are up to date.
To raise awareness of the importance of screening, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is asking the public to take part in #SmearForSmear by smearing their lipstick, taking a selfie, posting it on social media with the hashtag #SmearForSmear and then nominating a friend to do the same.
Dr Jack Kinsey, local GP and NHS West Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) board member, said: “In the UK, over 3000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. Identifying the cancer early – like most cancers – can save your life.
“While cervical cancer doesn’t always present any symptoms, the symptoms that do show don’t always mean it’s cervical cancer but it’s best to get checked out. We know that it can be an embarrassing subject, but regular screening can save your life.”