With next week (21-27 January) marking Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, health chiefs in St Helens are urging more women in the borough to attend their cervical screening tests.
Women who are registered with a GP and are aged 25-49 years of age are invited for a cervical smear every three years, with women aged between 50-64 years of age invited every five years.
Cervical screening uptake on a whole in England is at a 20-year low, with uptake being particularly low in younger women (aged 25-29) and older women (aged 60-64).
Data shows that one in four women do not take up their screening invitation at all.
Dr Paul Rose, St Helens GP Cancer Lead, said: “Cervical screening saves lives; please don’t ignore your screening invitation. A smear test takes just a few minutes and most come back as normal with a view to repeating in three to five years.”
Sue Forster, Director of Public Health for St Helens Council said:
“Although we have a better uptake than the Merseyside and England average, there are still a large number of women in St Helens who are not attending for their cervical smear test.
“We know that many women feel uncomfortable about the test, but being screened regularly means any problems can be found early and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.
“I would encourage all women who are eligible to take up their smear test invitation and for those who have missed a smear, to contact their GP to arrange an appointment.”
St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Better Health and Community Voice, Councillor Jeanette Banks, said: “I think the best thing that women can do is to keep themselves healthy. One of the ways to do that is to go and get a regular smear test.
“I have attended all my screening appointments. It is such a small amount of time for such big peace of mind to make sure you are healthy.
“Booking an appointment could literally be a live safer.”
Cervical cancer is often symptomless. However the most common symptoms are:
– Abnormal bleeding during or after sexual intercourse or between periods
– Post menopausal bleeding
– Unusual and/or unpleasant vaginal discharge
– Discomfort or pain during sex
– Lower back pain
For further information please speak to your GP or practice nurse or visit the Jo’s Trust website www.jostrust.org.uk