Embarrassment is the biggest reason thousands of young women are avoiding going for a smear test, a cancer charity has warned.
As low as one in two young women aren’t attending their cervical cancer screening and rates among all ages are at their lowest for two decades.
Around 220,000 British women are diagnosed with cervical abnormalities every year and there were 854 deaths from cervical cancer in England in 2016.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust surveyed more than 2,000 women aged 25-35, of them two thirds said they wouldn’t tell their nurse their smear test worries – with almost half admitting they regularly delay or don’t take up their invitation.
When asked what had caused them to delay or miss a test, three quarters said embarrassment or a stranger examining an intimate area.
Fear it will hurt, not knowing how to talk to a stranger about intimate body parts and not knowing what will happen during the test were also given as reasons.
This week marks Cervical Cancer Prevention Week and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has launched its #SmearForSmear campaign to tackle the decline in smear test attendance.
Robert Music, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust Chief Executive said: “Smear tests provide the best protection against cervical cancer yet we know they aren’t always easy.
“We want women to feel comfortable talking to their nurse and asking questions.
“It’s not making a fuss and there are many ways to make the test easier. Please don’t let your fears stop you booking a test.”
The charity is calling for self-sampling to be made available so that women can do the test themselves, as well as more flexible locations for women to attend.
Robert continued “Our research has again highlighted the urgent need for making the programme more patient-focused.
“It’s vital women have more control otherwise we will see attendance continue to fall and diagnoses of this often-preventable cancer increase.”
What is a cervical screening (smear test)?
Cervical screening is a free health test that helps to prevent cervical cancer – it’s also known as a smear test.
It checks for cell changes (abnormalities) on your cervix caused by high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) – it’s not a test for cancer.
You are automatically invited for cervical screening in the UK if you are aged between 25 and 64 years old, and registered as female with a GP surgery.
You are invited every three years if you’re between the ages of 25 and 49, and every 5 years between 50 and 64.
What is the #SmearForSmear campaign?
The campaign asks people to share lipstick smeared selfies or a short film to raise awareness that smear tests prevent cervical cancer and provide tips to make the test better.
TV presenter, Julia Bradbury shows just how easy it is to take part.
Source : BirminghamMail