During Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2020 (20-26 January), health professionals in Sefton are reminding women about the importance of attending their cervical screening – also known as a smear test.
Cervical cancer affects around 3,000 women in the UK every year, making it the most common form of cancer for women under the age of 35. According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, 75 per cent of these cases can be prevented through testing.
Screening is the best way to test for human papillomavirus (HPV). If the test comes back positive for HPV, the sample will then be tested for abnormal cells. If left untreated, abnormal cells can develop into cervical cancer.
In 2018/19, only 70.4 per cent of women aged 25-49 in South Sefton attended their cervical screenings after receiving their invitation letter, but health leaders are keen for more women take up the offer.
Debbie Harvey, clinical lead for cancer and end of life at NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Women aged 25 to 49 are offered screening every three years, and 50 to 64-year-olds are screened every five years. When it’s time for your next test, you should be sent a letter inviting you to make an appointment.
“It’s a quick and simple procedure which makes sure abnormal cells are spotted early – when it is easier to treat. Contact your GP if you think you may be overdue.
“The test only takes a few minutes and could prevent cancer. If you are eligible, I would highly encourage you to attend your cervical screening.”
Debbie added: “It’s really important to contact your GP if you notice any unusual bleeding or other concerning symptoms.”
Thanks to the GP Extra service, local residents can book to have their smear test carried out by a practice nurse on a weekday evening (5-8pm) or, weekend including bank holidays (10am-1pm), making it easier for those who are busy during the day to attend their screening. You can book an appointment for this service via your GP practice.
For more information on cervical cancer and what the screening test involves, visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalcancer
More information on extended access appointments is available here or via your own GP practice.