Women advised to have regular smear tests

Doctors are urging women to have regular smear tests
Doctors are urging women to have regular smear tests

Doctors in the Ribble Valley are backing Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and urging local women to ensure they take part in regular screening.

As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which aims to remind people that cervical cancer can kill, regular screening helps save thousands of lives every year.

Women in England and Wales aged between 25 and 64 years-old are invited to cervical screening, also known as a smear test, every three to five years.

On average, around eight women are diagnosed every day in the UK with cervical cancer with more than two women dying as a result every day. It is the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under. Despite this, more than 20% of women invited for screening do not attend. Cervical screening can prevent around 45% of cervical cancer cases in women in their 30s, rising with age to 75% in women in their 50s and 60s, who attend regularly.

Cervical cancer is not thought to be hereditary. In 99.7% of cases, cervical cancers are caused by persistent infections with a virus called high-risk human papillomavirus 2. Since 2008, girls aged 12 and 13 have been offered a vaccination against the human papillomavirus through school. Although the vaccine can prevent over 70% of cervical cancers it doesn’t protect against all of them so screening is still vitally important once screening age is reached.

Dr Vanessa Warren, GP lead for Ribblesdale Locality, said: “As well as attending for screening when you are invited, other signs to look out for include any abnormal bleeding or unpleasant discharge or pain after sex. If you notice anything unusual, make an appointment to see your doctor and get it checked out. Cervical screening only takes a matter of minutes and is mainly carried out by practice nurses. You can bring a relative or friend with you and you can request a female nurse or GP to take the sample. In the Ribble Valley, all practices allow women to book an appointment convenient for them up to 5 or 6 weeks in advance as long as they tell the receptionist it is for a smear. As with all cancers, the earlier a problem is spotted, the better the patient’s outcome.”