We are encouraging women to reduce their risk of the disease by promoting the steps they can take to look after their health.
Sister Julie Thomas, an oncology nurse specialist at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Please do not defer your smear if it is due, attending for your smear could save your life.
“If you are not due your smear but you have developed any concerning symptoms then please make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible for examination.”
Around 2,700 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year and approximately 690 women die from the disease – around two deaths every day.
Previous estimates suggest screening prevents 70% of cervical cancer deaths, but 83% of deaths could be prevented if everyone attended regularly.
NHS England data shows nearly a quarter of the 125,836 women eligible for cervical screening in Cumbria during 2020-21 did not attend an appointment. Some of these missed appointments were because of Covid-19.
In Cumbria, 77% of those eligible were screened – down from 79% the year before.
It means an estimated 28,710 women in the area missed out on the potentially life-saving programme during the pandemic, when invites to screenings were temporarily suspended and appointments delayed.
Corene Veitch, Nurse Colposcopist and Trust Lead, said: “Anyone with a cervix between ages 25 and 64 is eligible for cervical screening, which includes many trans men and/or non-binary people. Some trans men and/or non-binary people may have had gender confirmation surgery that involves removing the cervix, so will no longer be eligible.
“Only people who are registered as female with a GP surgery are invited for cervical screening via the call and recall system. This means that trans men and/or non-binary people who are not registered as female but do have a cervix need primary care professionals to engage with them in an understanding and supportive way.”
For further information about cervical screening, please visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalscreening.
How can you reduce your risk of cervical cancer?
- Attending cervical screening when invited.
- Knowing the symptoms of cervical cancer and seeking medical advice if experiencing any.
- Encouraging taking up the HPV vaccination for people aged 11-18.
Who can have a Smear Test?
You are automatically invited for cervical screening if you are:
- between the ages of 25 to 64
- registered as female with a GP surgery.
You are invited:
- every 3 years between age 25 and 49
- every 5 years between age 50 and 64.
You may get your first invite up to 6 months before you turn 25. You can book an appointment as soon as you get the invite.
It is very rare to develop cervical cancer if you are under the age of 25 or over the age of 64, if you have had regular cervical screening.
Symptoms of Cervical Cancer
- Lower back pain
- Pain during sex
- Bleeding: during or after sex or between periods
- Post menopausal bleeding
- Unusual discharge
If you have experienced any of these symptoms you should contact your GP.
Smear test appointments are available through NCIC’s Sexual Health Clinics. During this week our Sexual Health Teams will be sharing information about Cervical Cancer on their Cumbria Sexual Health Facebook page and on boards in their clinics.