Barton Seagrave mum starts petition to lower smear test age to 21 after scare
She's been under a gynaecologist since she was 20
A mum from Barton Seagrave has called for smear tests to be offered from the age of 21 after her own early screening picked up pre-cancerous cells.
Paige Spittle has been under a gynaecologist since she was just 20 after suffering agonising pain and bleeding after sex.
Having contracted the common human papillomavirus (HPV) virus she had her first ever smear test and was referred for a colposcopy where biopsies were taken.
They found CIN 1 and CIN 2 cells in her cervix - the latter of which have a moderate chance of becoming cancerous - which were removed by a LLETZ procedure.
But the cells wouldn't have been picked up had it not been for her smear test, which came years before she was due to be called for her first at the age of 25.
And now she has started a petition to lower the age for smear tests to 21 in the hope it will detect potential issues for other women early.
The veterinary nurse, who is a mum to three-year-old daughter Harper, said: "People don't get offered a smear test until they're 25 but I've had all these problems before then.
"Had I not had an early smear test those cells might not have been picked up.
"If they're left untreated they mutate and there would be more of them, and then what?"
The 25-year-old now has a smear test every one to two years and is currently awaiting more results having had further issues.
She added: "It's quite a scary thing to go through. I feel like I'm quite young and cancer is in my family.
"I've got a little girl who I bring up on my own and she depends on me being fit and well.
"It's been really difficult but I've got a good support network around me with my mum and sister and my workplace has been really understanding."
What do the NHS say?
All women and people with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64 should go for regular cervical screening. They should get a letter in the post inviting them to make an appointment.
The NHS say people will not be invited for cervical screening until they're 25 because cervical cancer is very rare in people under 25.
They also say it might lead them to having treatment they do not need and that abnormal cell changes often go back to normal in younger women.
They say women aged 25 to 49 should have a screening every three years, and that those aged 50 to 64 should have one every five years.
Last month we reported that there were fears for a rise in cervical cancer cases as thousands of extra Northamptonshire women missed their smear tests during pandemic.
Early cervical cancers and pre-cancerous cell changes don't usually have symptoms.
Not everyone diagnosed with cervical cancer will have symptoms, which is why it's important to attend regular cervical screening.
The most common symptoms of cervical cancer include:
- unusual vaginal bleeding
- pain or discomfort during sex
- vaginal discharge
- pain in the area between the hip bones
Paige added: "If you have any doubts listen to your body and see your clinician. Just don't leave it."
To sign Paige's petition, visit her page at https://www.change.org/p/nhs-lowering-the-smear-test-age-to-21-in-the-uk