A third of Northamptonshire women don’t go for their cervical cancer screening test

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Woman in Northamptonshire are being urged to attend regular screenings in Northamptonshire as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

NHS Nene Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are backing a campaign urging women aged 25-49 to attend the screenings for cervical cancer. Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which runs from 24 – 30 January, is a campaign by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.

In Northamptonshire in 2014, only 65 per cent of eligible women in the 25 to 49 year age bracket were screened (71 thousand out of 110 thousand). Yet, cervical cancer is largely preventable and, if caught early, the survival rates are high.

Every day in the UK eight women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three women will lose their lives to the disease. March will see the seventh anniversary of the death from cervical cancer of reality TV star Jade Goody. Jade was aged just 27 and may well have survived if she had undergone the regular screening tests that detect the disease in its early stages.

Women aged 25 to 49 are invited for cervical screening every three years. After that, women are invited every five years until the age of 64. Since the introduction of cervical screening in the 1980s, rates of cervical cancer have almost halved.

Nearly 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year in the UK yet 20 per cent of women do not take up their invitation for cervical screening.

For younger women, HPV vaccinations can help prevent seven out of 10 cervical cancers, and these are routinely given to girls across the country aged 12 and 13. This is a vaccination against the persistent human papillomavirus (HPV) infection that causes changes to the cervical cells and is responsible for nearly all cervical cancers.

However, although rarer there are some recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer which women are advised to be aware of:

Abnormal bleeding

Post-menopausal bleeding

Unusual discharge

Discomfort or pain during sex

Lower back pain

Dr Joanne Warcaba, Macmillan GP for Nene CCG and Corby CCG, said: “I can’t stress enough the importance of women having regular cervical screening. The screening programme saves 5,000 lives each year in the UK yet 20 per cent of women are not attending their cervical screening test annually.

“During the early stages, cervical cancer will not often have any symptoms and the best way for it to be detected is through a screening. Prevention is the key to improving survival rates and cervical screening will save lives.

“The sad death of Jade Goody at such a young age highlights the importance of both the cervical screening programme and the HPV vaccination programme. Cervical cancer is largely preventable and, if caught early, survival rates are high.

“Being screened regularly means that any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing. It is estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers.”

For more information, visit: www.jostrust.org.uk