NHS Blackburn with Darwen Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has launched a major drive aimed at protecting women against cervical cancer.
The campaign, running across the borough aims to encourage females aged between 25 and 64 to attend their smear, and remove barriers to access.
Some of the reasons women don’t attend can be emotional (fear, embarrassment or shame), considering themselves as low risk or not understanding what cervical screening is. Some women want to attend screening but they struggle to find time. With busy working lives it can be hard to book at appointment. This is one of the reasons why the CCG has invested in offering dedicated clinics over the weekend on both Saturday and Sunday. These are run by female nurses and can be booked through your GP surgery.
Cervical cancer, the most common cancer in women aged 35 and under, can be prevented but the best way to do this is to attend your smear when invited. Currently in the UK, women are eligible for a smear test from the age of 25 to 64. Women aged 25 – 49 are invited every three years and women aged 50 – 64 are invited every five years.
Blackburn GP Dr Neil Smith, and cancer lead for Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said: “Cervical screening is not a test for cancer. Screening prevents cancer by detecting early abnormalities in the cervix, so they can be treated. If these abnormalities are left untreated they can lead to cancer of the cervix (the neck of the womb). We know that on average cervical screening helps save the lives of approximately 4,500 women in England every year.
“Unfortunately, we also know that there is a recent and worrying trend of fewer women attending screening; especially in the 25 – 29 age group. We are however working hard to try to encourage more women of all ages to attend for their smear.”
As well as attending for screening when you are invited, other signs to look out for include any abnormal bleeding or unpleasant discharge or pain after sex. If you notice anything unusual, make an appointment to see your doctor and get it checked out.
Cervical screening only takes a matter of minutes. As with all cancers, the earlier a problem is spotted, the better the patient’s outcome. Screening saves lives, and we are committed to helping and encouraging all women to access this vital service.
More information about cervical screening and cervical abnormalities can be found at Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.