Cervical cancer is diagnosed in nine women every day in the UK and here in Southampton, 67% of the women eligible for cervical screening, which could detect the disease, take up the opportunity to be screened.
As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week this week, local doctors in Southampton want to raise awareness of the importance of attending your cervical screening test when invited. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 but is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme.
Dr Pritti Aggarwal, local GP and member of the NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body, said: “Cervical screening only takes around five minutes, but it could be the most important appointment you make this year.
Statistics for Southampton show that women aged between 25-49 years of age were less likely to be screened for cervical cancer compared to women in the city aged 50-64*. We want to raise awareness of the importance of having regular cervical screening and encourage the younger generation to follow in the footsteps of women before them.”
All women will be invited for a cervical screening test from the age of 25. Women aged 25 to 49 years of age are offered screening every three years, and women aged 50 to 64 are offered screening every five years.
Dr Aggarwal added: “If you are overdue your cervical screening test, contact your GP practice to book your appointment today. The test will be carried out by a practice nurse or a GP, if you would prefer to have a female health professional take your test then you can request this when booking your appointment. Although many people feel daunted about attending their cervical screening, the nurse or doctor will be happy to answer any queries you have. Ultimately, it could save your life.”
You can find out more about cervical screening at www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening and www.jostrust.org.uk/about-cervical-cancer/cervical-screening-smear-test-and-abnormal-cells.”
*In Southampton, only 64.5% of women aged 25-49, had their smear test in the past 3.5years compared to 73.4% of women aged 50 - 64 in the past 5.5 years (data taken at 2016-17). This meant the total number of eligible women in Southampton who were screened was just 66.8% (Source: PHOF report, Open Exeter system, NHS Digital).