Dudley Council is backing Public Health England’s (PHE) new national campaign to encourage more women to attend their cervical screening appointments.
The campaign encourages women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter, and if they missed their last screening, to book an appointment at their GP practice.
In Dudley borough only around 70 per cent of women who are eligible and invited for a smear test actually attend their appointment. This is below the national average of around 75 per cent and below the national target of 80 per cent.
Nationally, around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease, which is two deaths every day. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83 per cent of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.
New research from PHE shows that nearly all women eligible for screening (90 per cent) would be likely to take a test that could help prevent cancer - and of those who have attended screening, 9 in 10 (94 per cent) would encourage others who are worried to attend their cervical screening. Despite this, screening is at a 20-year low, with one in four eligible women (those aged 25 to 64) in the UK not attending their test.
The new PHE campaign provides practical information about how to make the test more comfortable, and gives reassurance to women, who may be fearful of finding out they have cancer, that screening is not a test for cancer.
Regular screening, which only takes a few minutes, can help stop cervical cancer before it starts, as the test identifies potentially harmful cells before they become cancerous, and ensures women get the right treatment as soon as possible.
The PHE research shows that once they have been screened, the vast majority of women feel positive about the experience, with 8 in 10 (87 per cent) stating they are ‘glad they went’ and that they were ‘put at ease by the nurse or doctor doing the test’ (84 per cent).
Councillor Cathryn Bayton, cabinet member for health and adult social care said:
Cervical screening is one of the most important things women can do to protect themselves from the risk of cervical cancer.
I always attend my appointments, it’s so important and when you think about it one of the simplest things you can do to look after your own health. It only takes a few minutes out of your day, it can pick up early warning signs and can even save your life. It’s something all women should do.”
Professor Anne Mackie, Director of Screening Programmes at PHE said:
The decline in numbers getting screened for cervical cancer is a major concern as it means millions of women are missing out on a potentially life-saving test. Two women die every day in England from cervical cancer, yet it is one of the most preventable cancers if caught early.
We want to see a future generation free of cervical cancer but we will only achieve our vision if women take up their screening invitations. This is a simple test which takes just five minutes and could save your life. It’s just not worth ignoring.”
The campaign is also being supported by charities, including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. Activity includes new advertising on TV and other channels, together with the cascade of information through GP surgeries and pharmacies.
For further information about cervical screening, please search ‘NHS Cervical Screening’ or view the NHS Cervical Screening resources.
Notes to editor