Revealed: Thousands of North Somerset’s women are skipping 10-minute tests - which could save their lives
PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 February 2017
More than 10,000 women across North Somerset have failed to attend potentially lifesaving routine medical appointments in the past five years.
Some 10,852 women did not attend cervical screening appointments – commonly known as smear tests – which can detect early signs of a woman developing cervical cancer.
The test is offered every three years to women aged 25 and over, yet more than a fifth of eligible women in North Somerset did not make an appointment to have a smear test during the past five years.
Dr Alison Wint is the clinical lead for cancer within the North Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which commission healthcare services across the West of England region.
Dr Wint said: “Smear tests can often feel embarrassing for women, however by doing so it means they are giving themselves the best possible chance of preventing cervical cancer.
“Screening allows us to identify abnormal cells before they become cancer, which means effective treatment can start – so early detection really does save lives.”
Dr Wint also encouraged women who have had smear tests to encourage their female friends and relatives to get checked, while all women should ensure their GP has their most up-to-date address so postal invitations for screening can be sent out.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women aged under 35.
There are nearly 6,000 women aged between 25 and 29 in North Somerset who are eligible for cervical screening, but some 1,632 of these women did not attend a smear test appointment during the past five years.
Dr Julie Yates is Public Health England’s lead consultant in public health, screening and immunisation in the South West. She said: “The screening test is relatively simple, takes about five minutes and is performed by the practice nurse at a GP surgery.
“It really is very quick – it could prevent a woman needing more invasive treatment later on and could ultimately save her life.”