Kirklees women avoiding smear tests that could save lives

Dr David Kelly of North Kirklees CCG
Dr David Kelly of North Kirklees CCG

Shocking new figures have revealed that a quarter of younger women in Kirklees did not have a cervical smear test in the last year.

Only 75 per cent of local women in the 25-49 age bracket took up their invitation for the test, which can spot early abnormalities in the cervix.

However, among older women aged 50-64, 81 per cent underwent a test.

Kirklees Council and North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group are now urging women to book an appointment for a smear.

Test results can enable abnormal cells to be treated before they develop into cervical cancer, the most common form of the disease in under-35s. Over 3,000 women are diagnosed each year in the UK.

The overall number of women eligible for testing in Kirklees who took up their invitation also declined slightly between 2014 and 2015.

Smear testing begins at the age of 25 and is free on the NHS. Patients are invited back at intervals of several years, depending on their age, until they reach 65. The procedure is quick and painless.

“We want to increase the understanding about cervical screening and how vital it is for women to have regular smear tests because these tests really can save lives," said Dr David Kelly, chair of North Kirklees CCG.

“Women have no need to be embarrassed by the tests which are quick and painless. A simple smear test enables women to receive treatment before it is too late, preventing unnecessary deaths. So our message is clear: don’t ignore your smear test.”

Up to three quarters of cervical cancer cases could be avoided if abnormalities had been picked up early by a test.

“We understand that going for a cervical smear test can be daunting but a cervical screening test takes five minutes, is painless, and if you attend each time you’re invited it provides a high degree of protection against developing cervical cancer," said Dr Yasmin Khan, associate medical director for NHS England Yorkshire and the Humber.

Any patient who did not respond to a smear invitation can contact their GP to book a test at any time.

CERVICAL SCREENING - THE FACTS:

- Cervical screening isn't a test for cancer; it's a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix (the entrance to the womb). Most women's test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.

- The symptoms of cervical cancer aren't always obvious, and it may not cause any symptoms at all until it's reached an advanced stage. This is why it's very important that women attend all of their cervical screening appointments.

- In most cases, vaginal bleeding is the first noticeable symptom of cervical cancer. It usually occurs after having sex. Bleeding at any other time, other than your expected monthly period, is also considered unusual. Other symptoms of cervical cancer may include pain and discomfort during sex and an unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge.

To find out more about Cervical Cancer Prevention Week visit the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust website www.jostrust.org.uk. For more information about cervical cancer and the NHS Cervical Screening Programme visit http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-cervix