Nationally, two women every day lose their lives to cervical cancer, with 75 per cent of cases preventable through screening.
In West Leicestershire, in 2016/17, 77 per cent of women aged 25-64 years who were eligible for screening had their routine smear test. This is above the national average of 72%, but still below the target of 80%.
West Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Group is encouraging all women aged 25 – 64 years to attend their smear test.
It is recommended women aged 25-49 have their cervical screening test every three years and women aged 50-64 should have their test every five years. Women will receive a letter through the post asking them to make an appointment for the potentially life-saving screening.
Following a cervical screening test, most women’s test results show that everything is normal, however for 1 in 20 women the test shows abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. These changes don’t necessarily mean cancer, but they do mean we need to check further.
The screening usually takes around five minutes where a soft brush is used to collect cells from the surface of the cervix. The cell sample is then sent to a laboratory for analysis with results received within 2 weeks.
Leicestershire GP and CCG Chair, Professor Mayur Lakhani, said: “I understand that some women can find the smear test uncomfortable and embarrassing, but it is really important that all women who receive a letter through the post attend their cervical screening test. As a practicing GP, I know that having a smear test can save lives. I would urge women to have one. If you have not had yours for three years (aged 25-50) or five years (aged 50-65) book yours now!
“Ultimately, the five minutes which the screening takes could turn out to be life-saving. If you’re concerned about anything out of the ordinary, it is important to talk to someone about it. Just one conversation could lead to a cancer diagnosis at an early stage, and the earlier we can start treating cancer, the better the outcome will be.”
For more information about the cervical screening test, visit the NHS Choices website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/