Women in Bradford urged to have their smear tests as three in ten do not attend
The latest statistics from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC)[i] has alarmingly revealed that three in ten (28%) women aged 25-64 in Bradford are not booking in and turning up to a smear test.
The data shows that the numbers of women in Bradford attending in both the younger age group (25-49) and the older age group (50-64) are falling. In the 25-49 age group, 69.4% attended in 2014 dropping to 69.2% in 2015.
In the 50-64 age group 79.7% attended in 2014 dropping to 78.6% in 2015. This Cervical Screening Awareness Week (Monday 13th June to Friday 19th June 2016) Bradford Council is urging all women to pick up the phone when they receive an appointment letter and book their smear test in – it could save their life.
Philip Hargreaves, Health Protection Senior Manager for Bradford Council, said: "Cervical screening is not a test for cancer but of detecting early abnormalities which can be treated before even gets started. This is why everyone invited should get screened.”
“Talking about the test does reassure people and encourage more women to attend screening. Support from friends and family is important; particularly for women going to a screening for the first time.”
Dr Anne Connolly, the Bradford NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) clinical specialty lead for maternity, women’s and sexual health said: “Any woman is at risk of developing cervical cancer. It is very concerning that the number of women in Bradford attending their smear test is decreasing. It is vital for women to attend their cervical smear when called as this will save lives. The test takes just minutes and can be performed at a GP surgery by the practice nurse or GP or, if preferred, a local contraception service.”
As part of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme, women aged 25-49 are invited to attend cervical screening (or a smear test) at their GP practice every three years, and women aged 50-64 are invited to attend every five years. 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 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
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 for women to attend all of their cervical screening appointments.
Dr Yasmin Khan – Associate Medical Director, NHS England – North (Yorkshire and the Humber) said: “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.
“We know that having a smear test can feel like a bit of an embarrassing prospect, but the test only takes three minutes and you really can’t put a price on being proactive and preventative about your own health.
“It’s actually estimated that early detection and treatment through cervical screening can prevent up to 75% 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 by calling their GP and ensure they stay healthy.”
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Over 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK and every day we see the devastating impact a diagnosis has on women, their family and friends.
“It is estimated that the cervical screening programme saves around 4,500 lives a year in England so it is very concerning to see that uptake in West Yorkshire has decreased across every age group. I urge all eligible women in the area to take up their screening invitation when invited, it could save their life and take us closer to a future free from cervical cancer.”
More information about the NHS Cervical Screening Programme can be found here.
To find out more about people’s personal stories in Yorkshire and their fears, the facts and getting ready for your smear, visit Fear or Smear.
For more information about cervical cancer and symptoms visit the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website.