Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has again lent her support to Cervical Screening Awareness Week (11th-17th June), to highlight the potentially life-saving benefits of cervical screening.
Every year, over 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 890 women lose their lives as a result of the disease.
Cervical screening – also known as a smear test – prevents up to 75% of cervical cancers from developing, and saves an estimated 5,000 lives across the country each year. However, one in four women still do not attend their cervical screening appointment when invited – and Newcastle has the lowest take-up rate for cervical screening across the North East.
During Cervical Screening Awareness Week, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s only dedicated charity for women affected by cervical cancer and abnormalities, is also warning that more needs to be done to make it easier for women to access a screening appointment by ensuring that there are a range of appointment times available at their GP practice, more access at sexual health services and that new technologies such as self-sampling should be piloted.
Smear tests are largely delivered in GP practices with five million women invited every year in the UK. However, new research by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has found a worrying one in eight women find it difficult or even impossible to book an appointment. 7.4% of women were told no appointments at their GP practice were available the last time they tried to book.
‘I am pleased to continue to work with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust to raise awareness of the importance of screening, as it’s very worrying that one in four women still do not attend their smear test. Equally concerning is that many women are finding it hard to get an appointment for this at a time that suits them. We must ensure that all eligible women are able to take up this simple and potentially life-saving test, and the findings of this new research really must serve as a wake-up call to the Government.’
Robert Music, CEO of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said:
‘We’re delighted to have the support of Catherine. It’s extremely concerning that despite cervical screening protecting against 75% of all cervical cancers, one in four women don’t attend, and that cervical screening coverage in England is at a 20-year low. Our research shows that access to cervical screening across the UK is unequal and inconsistent, which needs to change. We have a free Helpline (0808 802 8000) where women can call if they have any questions about cervical screening, no question is too big or small. We would like all women to feel they can make an informed decision in attending this potentially life-saving test.’