Northamptonshire women urged not to miss smear tests

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Women in Northamptonshire are being urged not to miss potentially life-saving smear tests.

Health leaders at NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are urging women in Northamptonshire not to miss appointments as new research shows more than five million British women are failing to attend cervical screenings altogether and a further million have never had a smear test. Nearly 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the UK.

Dr Joanne Warcaba, Macmillan GP for Nene CCG and Corby CCG, said: “It’s vital that women in Northamptonshire attend regular cervical screening. During the early stages, cervical cancer will not often have any symptoms and the best way for it to be detected is through a screening. Prevention is the key to improving survival rates and cervical screening will save lives.

“Being screened regularly means that any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing. It is estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers.”

Women aged 25 to 49 are invited for cervical screening every three years. After that, women are invited every five years until the age of 64. Since the introduction of cervical screening in the 1980s, rates of cervical cancer have almost halved.

As many as nine women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer every day and three women will lose their lives to the disease. Yet cervical cancer is largely preventable and, if caught early, the survival rates are high.

For younger women, HPV vaccinations can help prevent seven out of 10 cervical cancers, and these are routinely given to girls across the country aged 12 and 13. This is a vaccination against the persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that causes changes to the cervical cells and is responsible for nearly all cervical cancers.

However, although rarer there are some recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer which women are advised to be aware of. They are abnormal bleeding, post-menopausal bleeding, unusual discharge, discomfort or pain during sex and lower back pain

For more information http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening-test/