A leading GP is advising young women in Hampshire how a five minute test could detect potentially life threatening cancerous cells.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35, but for instance the latest data from NHS England showed in March 2017 an average of just 72 per cent of women aged 25 to 64 in the Portsmouth area had the screening.
As cervical cancer prevention week comes to a close, the advice is still clear that women should not ignore their screening invite.
Dr Linda Collie, GP and Clinical Lead at Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group said: “It really is vital that young women understand the importance of screening, it’s there for people without symptoms to prevent something from developing.
“It’s a simple test that will take around five minutes and is performed by the practice nurse at your GP surgery. I cannot stress enough how important these tests are, if you have received your letter, please don’t ignore it, make an appointment, it will be over before you know it and could save your life”.
The number of women dying from cervical cancer has halved over the past 28 years as a result of the NHS screening programme as well as improvement in treatment.
Despite this success more than 5,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Some of these women may have delayed coming forward for screening for a variety of reasons but treatment of early changes detected by screening can prevent women from developing cancer.
Nigel Acheson, NHS England South Region Medical Director and lead for Cancer, said: “We have noticed a fall in attendance of younger women over the past few years, and are concerned that this trend may increase due to misunderstanding of the level of protection that the HPV vaccination offers. The first girls who were vaccinated against HPV are now eligible for screening as they reach their 25th birthday. Although they are protected against the two most common HPV types that cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers, the risk is not completely eliminated and screening is still an important part of preventing cancer.”
NHS England has signed up to the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust ‘Time to Test’ pledge demonstrating commitment to raising awareness of cervical cancer prevention in the workplace and ensuring female employees can access cervical screening.