Health: Don’t fear the smear
Cervical Screening Awareness Week from June 12-18 aims to increase awareness around cervical cancer screening. Organised by Jo’s Cervical Cancer trust, the charity encourages people to get involved with fundraising events and social media promotion.
“It’s time we reverse these worrying statistics which is why Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust launched Cervical Screening Awareness Week, and this year it is more important than ever,” said chief executive Robert Music. “We want to make sure all women know why the test is so important and what it involves.”
Jo’s Trust includes all this information on their website as well as guides from what will happen during the screening to what to do if your partner has been diagnosed.
A smear takes less than five minutes and can prevent around 75 per cent of all cervical cancers, estimated to save some 5,000 lives a year, yet the disease is still taking two women’s lives each day.
Currently, one in four women in the UK are not attending this potentially live saving screenings. Uptake in England is at a 19-year low and a 10-year low in both Scotland and Wales.
Screening attendance drops even further among 25- to 29-year-olds and women over 60; in both age groups only one in three women attend when invited. Reasons vary from embarrassment to not understanding why it is an important test to being scared to not thinking it is relevant to them.
These low figures of attendance are definitely not an exception in Bristol. Music explained that “NHS Bristol CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) has currently the lowest screening uptake in the NHS South West region which is why we visited the city at the end May as part of our Be Cervix Roadshow, talking to women about how they can best protect themselves from cervical cancer.
“We spoke to thousands of women in the city and June’s Cervical Screening Awareness Week is yet another chance for us spread the word about the importance of screening in preventing cervical cancer. Our vison is a future where cervical cancer is a disease of the past.”
For more information and ways to get involved visit www.jostrust.org.uk.