Women in Swindon are asked not to let having a cervical screening slip off their ‘to do’ list this year as Cervical Cancer Prevention Week approaches.
Despite the fact that every day nine women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three women will lose their lives to the disease, nearly a quarter of women in Swindon are still choosing to skip their routine screening.
Last year on average the uptake in Swindon was 77% (76.99%) with statistics showing that women aged between 25-29 years have the lowest attendance record. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer for under 35-year-old women. Adding to the concern, and in line with the national trend, levels of uptake are falling year on year.
That’s why Swindon Borough Council is joining forces with NHS England and Public Health England to encourage women to be savvy about screening.
Findings from surveys by cancer charities indicate embarrassment and a lack of understanding about the causes of cervical cancer may be behind the declining numbers.
Historically the number of women dying from cervical cancer has halved over the past 27 years thanks to the NHS screening programme as well as advances in treatment. Despite this success, more than 3,000 women nationally are diagnosed each year, with the majority of those diagnosed having delayed coming forward for screening, reducing their chances of having early changes treated.
European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs from 24th-30th January and aims to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening and its role in preventing cancer, as well as encouraging women to go for their screening test when invited.
Cervical screening as well as the HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) vaccination programme makes cervical cancer largely preventable. The Cervical Screening Programme invites all eligible women registered with a GP aged between 25 to 64 years for a cervical screen every three or five years (depending on age). The screening test, carried out by GP surgery practice nurses, takes around five minutes. 95% of the results will be normal and of those which reveal abnormalities, the vast majority can be treated very easily and will never develop into cancer.
Dr Ayoola Oyinloye, Public Health Consultant at Swindon Borough Council, said: “Our message to all women who are eligible is simple – please don’t miss your invite for a cervical screening. It only takes a few minutes and could literally be a lifesaver. Screening plays a vital preventative role because it can detect pre-cancer abnormalities which, if left untreated, may develop into cancer. That’s why it’s so important not to let it slip off your ‘to do’ list.”
If you think you are due a screening but haven’t been notified, please contact your GP. For more information visit www.nhs.co.uk/cervicalcancer