Young women urged to have a smear test as new figures reveal 1 in 3 not attending in Bradford

New research reveals that young women aged 25-49 in Bradford are much less likely to attend a smear test in comparison to women aged 50-64. This year in Bradford, only 69% of eligible younger women had a smear test compared to 78.6% of women aged 50-64.

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. This Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (24th – 30th January 2016) Bradford Council is urging all young women to attend their cervical smear test when invited – it could save lives.

The research[i] from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) also shows that the number of women of all eligible ages having a smear test in Bradford is steadily decreasing year-on-year. In 2014 72.3% of women attended and in 2015 71.9% of women attended.

Philip Hargreaves, Health Protection Senior Manager for Bradford Council, said:

“Cervical screening is not a test for cancer but is a method of preventing cancer by detecting and treating early abnormalities which can prevent the disease before it gets started which is why everyone invited should get screened.”

“Talking about the test does reassure people and encourage more women to attend screening so support from friends and family is also important particularly for those 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:

“It is important to remember that any woman is at risk of developing cervical cancer and there is unlikely to be any abnormal symptoms in the early stages.

“The number of women attending for their smear in Bradford is decreasing. This is very concerning for us, as this test is so important in detecting changes to the cervix at an early stage when treatments are easy and will save lives.

“Women can have this easy test performed at their GP surgery by their practice nurse or their GP or, if they prefer, their local contraception service.”

Dr Yasmin Khan – Associate Medical Director, Yorkshire and the Humber, said:

“We understand that going for a cervical smear test can be daunting but a cervical screening test takes five minutes, 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% 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.”

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 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.

To find out more about Cervical Cancer Prevention Week visit the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website www.jostrust.org.uk. For more information about cervical cancer and the NHS Cervical Screening Programme visit http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-cervix

[i] HSCIC ‘Cervical Screening Programme, England – 2014-2015’ Nov 2015