ONE million women are at risk of deadly cervical cancer after ignoring their smear test invite, new NHS stats have revealed.
New figures show that 71.9 per cent of women attended their regular cervical screening in England in 2018-19.
It's a 0.5 per cent increase on last year and the first time attendance rates have gone up in five years.
However, campaigners say that despite the small gain one million women still chose not to attend their smear test.
Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "While we have seen small gains in attendance, we must not lose sight of the fact that one million women did not attend cervical screening last year in England.
"We remain far below the 80 per cent target and have a long way to go."
Women aged between 24 and 49 are eligible for screening every three years, while women aged between 50 and 64 should be screened every five years.
The lifesaving tests look for cell changes that could lead to cancer, which is almost always caused by caused by human papillomavirus (HPV).
Women report various reasons for skipping checks but most come down to feeling embarrassed or fearing the procedure.
Others have said they find it difficult to get to the doctor or they don't understand the purpose of the test.
'Jade Goody effect'
There was a small boost in screening attendances after reality star Jade Goody tragically died of the disease.
Dubbed “the Jade Goody effect", nearly half a million more women than usual to have a smear test in 2009.
But since then rates have continued to fall and in 2017 attendance hit a 20-year low.
The government and NHS has attempted various way to increase screening coverage and make the tests more effective.
Earlier this year, Public Health England launched an awareness campaign urging women not to be afraid of the test.
Nearly all cervical cancers are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV),
The test is set to be replaced with more sensitive versions and HPV testing to try and catch the disease even sooner.
Mr Music added: "With HPV testing being rolled out we now have a far more effective screening method which can prevent many more cancer diagnoses.
"Ensuring women can access and understand the benefits of this test should be paramount.
"Ensuring women fully understand what it means to be tested for HPV, to be diagnosed with it and implications on daily life is equally as important.
"We are seeing increasing numbers of women who are confused and fearful following a HPV test and this needs to change.”
Know the signs
Early diagnosis is key when it comes to any form of cancer as it can increase the chance of survival – and cervical cancer is one of them.
Catch it at the earliest stage – stage 1 – and you have the highest chance of surviving it.
But get diagnosed at stage 4, and you've only got a 5 per cent chance of surviving five years or longer.
That's why it's absolutely crucial that you know what changes to look out for and get them tested ASAP.
1. Abnormal bleeding (during or after sex, between periods and also post-menopause)period
The most common and earliest sign of cervical cancer tends to be irregular bleeding.
It happens when the cancer cells grow on the tissue below the cervix.
It's an especially alarming sign in postmenopausal women who no longer have periods. There's no age limit to developing cervical cancer.
2. Unusual vaginal discharge
Everyone's discharge is different, so it's a case of knowing what is normal for you.
If you find that the colour, smell and consistency has changed, then that's something you really need to have checked out.
When cancer lacks oxygen, it can cause an infection which leads to strange smelling discharge.
3. Discomfort or pain during sex
Pain during sex can be a sign of a number of different issues, but one is cervical cancer.
Because the disease often comes with no symptoms, pain during intercourse is one of the key indicators. It can be a sign that the cancer is spreading to surrounding tissues.
4. Lower back pain
It could be down to you straining something in the gym, or it could be a warning sign that something's wrong with your reproductive organs.
Persistent pain – just one off twinges – in the lower back, pelvis or appendix can be a symptom of cervical cancer.
5. Unintended weight loss
While effortless weight loss might sound like the answer to many of our prayers, it's never a good sign if it happens seemingly without cause.
A loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss tend to be signs that the body isn't working properly – it's trying to conserve energy. If you notice that you're not eating as you normally do, go to your GP.
Source: Read Full Article