Women aged 25 - 64 years are being urged to take up their regular smear tests during Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.
NHS East Sussex Downs and Weald say that in 2008/09 over 20% of those invited, didn’t go for their check.
Cervical screening nurse consultant Jenny Greenfield says,
“As always, regular screening is the most effective way of finding a problem early and preventing a cancer from developing.
Cervical screening can prevent around 75% of cancer cases in women who attend regularly. Many who develop it have never been screened. So you could say the biggest risk is actually not having the regular smear tests.”
Most cases of cervical cancer are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). The majority of sexually active women will come into contact with high risk types of HPV at some time in their life. In most women, their body's own immune system will get rid of the infection without them ever knowing it was there. Only a minority who are positive for high risk HPV types will develop cervical abnormalities which could develop into cervical cancer if left untreated.
Screening begins at 25, with invitations for screening repeated every 3 years until the age of 49, and then every five years between the ages of 50 and 64 years old.
“HPV is a very common infection and up to 75% of people of reproductive age will be infected with it at some time in their lives. For the majority of women it won’t cause a lasting problem but every year in the UK, over 2,800 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 1,000 women will die from the disease so screening needs to be taken seriously.”
Screening is offered by GP practices, family planning and sexual health clinics.
There is an additional monthly clinic at Lewes Victoria Hospital and the next dates are 9th February and 9th March, 6-8pm. To make an appointment call 01273 474153 ext 2145.