Young women urged to have their smear test across the Bradford District

Women over the age of 25 are being encouraged to go for their cervical screenings across the district as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (22-28 January) as national figures show fewer women are having the test.

Efforts are being made across the district to raise the awareness of how important the tests are, 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.

Smear for smear logo 2017

Dr Anne Connolly, the Bradford NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) clinical specialty lead for maternity, women’s and sexual health will be leading a webchat being hosted on the NHS in Bradford Facebook page on Wednesday, 25 January at 12.30pm. This will aim to explain why this investigation is important and help answer the many questions and concerns women have before attending for their cervical smear test.

Bradford Council has also published videos on its website featuring local women explaining why it was important for them to get tested when invited by their GP.

The latest figures from NHS Digital show that, across the district, one in three women aged 25-49 are still not attending a cervical screening every three years and one in five women aged 50-64 are not attending a cervical screening every five years

Ralph Saunders, Head of Public Health for Bradford Council, said: “Cervical screening is not a test for cancer but for detecting early abnormalities which can be treated before it 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 at NHS England in Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “For some people the thought of going for a cervical smear test can be embarrassing, often people think it’s painful, or it can seem a scary or daunting prospect for other reasons. However, the test takes five minutes, it’s painless, and you really can’t put a price on taking the right steps early on to protect your 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.”

For more information about the NHS Cervical Screening Programme visit the NHS Choices website

To find out more about Cervical Cancer Prevention Week visit the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website.