Cervical screening fallen to twenty year low

Data from Public Health England (PHE) has shown that the number of women attending cervical screening has fallen to a 20-year low.

This has lead PHE to launch a major new national campaign ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’, to increase the number of women attending their cervical screening across England.

The campaign will encourage women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter, and if they missed their last screening, to book an appointment at their GP practice

New research from PHE shows that nearly all women eligible for screening (90%) would be likely to take a test that could help prevent cancer - and of those who have attended screening, 9 in 10 (94%) would encourage others who are worried to attend their cervical screening. Despite this, screening is at a 20-year low, with 1 in 4 eligible women (those aged 25 to 64) in the UK not attending their test.

The new PHE campaign provides practical information about how to make the test more comfortable, and gives reassurance to women, who may be fearful of finding out they have cancer, that screening is not a test for cancer.

Regular screening, which only takes a few minutes, can help stop cervical cancer before it starts, as the test identifies potentially harmful cells before they become cancerous, and ensures women get the right treatment as soon as possible.

The PHE research shows that once they have been screened, the vast majority of women feel positive about the experience, with 8 in 10 (87%) stating they are ‘glad they went’ and that they were ‘put at ease by the nurse or doctor doing the test’ (84%).

Professor Anne Mackie, Director of Screening Programmes at PHE said: "The decline in numbers getting screened for cervical cancer is a major concern as it means millions of women are missing out on a potentially life-saving test. Two women die every day in England from cervical cancer, yet it is one of the most preventable cancers if caught early.

"We want to see a future generation free of cervical cancer but we will only achieve our vision if women take up their screening invitations. This is a simple test which takes just five minutes and could save your life. It’s just not worth ignoring."

The campaign is also being supported by charities, including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. Activity includes new advertising on TV and other channels, together with the cascade of information through GP surgeries and pharmacies.

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