Bradford councillors lend support to cervical screening campaign

Members of Bradford Council are supporting a campaign to encourage women aged 25-34 across Bradford and Airedale to attend a smear test. Leaflets and information about the test will be available to shoppers in Kirkgate Market, Bradford, on Tuesday 29 January from 10am to 2pm at a stall in the upper mall, where the councillors will attend to lend their support.

Councillor Ruth Billheimer (Ecccleshill) is keen to help raise awareness and encourage women to take the test. The detection of abnormal cells at one of her cervical screening tests helped saved her life. She said:
“It was thanks to a smear test at a screening session at work in 1986. If I hadn’t gone for the screening, that could have developed into cancer and I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby (Wyke) was similarly tested and treated successfully.
“That’s why it’s vitally important for women to be routinely tested so that if there are any changes they are detected and treated as soon as possible,” she said.

Ruth is also urging the mothers of the district’s young women to encourage their daughters to take the test.
“I’ve made sure that my two daughters go for regular screening and I think every mother should be talking to her adult children about this. Not just girls, boys too – if they have a female partner, they need to know how to help her take care of her health.”

Arshad Hussain, acting screening co-ordinator and senior public health manager for NHS Airedale, Bradford and Leeds, said:
“We’re asking the close relatives of the women we’re targeting – primarily mothers like Ruth – but also aunts, sisters and cousins, to encourage them to take the test. Their support can positively influence their loved ones and ensure the best possible wellbeing for them.

“Having a smear test takes just a few minutes. Women have the choice of a female doctor or nurse, and they can also bring a friend for support if they wish. The test can detect any abnormalities or changes in the cervix which, if left untreated, could lead to cervical cancer.”

When invited for a test, women will receive a letter from their local primary care trust or GP asking them to make an appointment for screening. They can choose whether to have it done at their GP practice or family planning clinic.

Most women receive a normal result, which means that the cells were considered to be normal. These women are recalled for another routine test within three to five years.

Some women receive an abnormal result. This means the laboratory has identified some cell changes which need further investigation. Not all abnormal changes need to be referred for immediate treatment; some may disappear without the need for any treatment. Depending upon the degree of changes, women may be asked to have a repeat test in six or 12 months, or may be referred for further investigation.