Dr Neil Smith, local GP and Cancer Lead for Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups is promoting a campaign called “25 its time” to coincide with Cervical Cancer Screening Week (11-17 June), to encourage 25 year olds to attend their cervical screening.
Women aged 25-30 are less likely to accept an invitation for screening than those in older age groups. Practices across Pennine Lancashire are working together to improve uptake. Each practice has a nominated cancer champion who attended a recent training course on how to support more 25 year olds to have a smear.
Dr Smith said: “The simple message of our campaign is “25 its time” for your first smear. It is very important and topical during Cervical Cancer Screening Week. Over 3000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Many people are not aware that it is more common in younger women with half of the cases diagnosed in women under the age of 45.
“Cervical screening is a way of preventing cancer by finding and treating abnormal cells in the cervix. These changes could lead to cancer if left untreated. Cervical screening prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing.
“Our work has shown that only about 1/3 of 25 year olds invited for their first smear actually attend. The G.P. practices in Pennine Lancashire are working to improve this by contacting young women with cards, text and telephone calls reminding them and booking an appointment for a smear test. We want to make it easier for everyone to take up their smear test invitation.”
The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of the importance to attend screening and to use the hashtag #25itstime on social media to help promote these messages to young women. It has been organised in partnership with Cancer Research UK and Jo’s Trust.
Victoria Gunston is a 25 year old who supports the campaign and wants to encourage more young women to attend for their first smear. She said “I was dreading going for my first smear but it was nowhere near as bad as I thought. It didn’t hurt one bit. I can understand why someone may not want to go but I would certainly recommend having a smear.”
For information and support on cervical cancer, contact Jo’s Trust; a charity dedicated to women affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. Visit www.jostrust.org.uk or call 0808 802 8000 or Cancer Research UK http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cervical-cancer/getting-diagnosed/screening
Short film about “#25itstime” cervical cancer screening campaign is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nz9C2JxhzUs. To keep up to date on the “25 it’s time” campaign search using the hashtag #25itstime on Facebook and Twitter.