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Cervical screening week to get young women involved

Cervical screening week 21 - 27 April hopes to raise awareness of cervical cancer and ensure women attend screening appointments.

It is estimated that 40% of women under the age of 35 years fail to attend a regular smear test.

Jo's Trust, a cervical cancer charity, is concerned that young women fail to attend appointments because they know little of invasive cervical cancer and the benefits of early diagnosis.

Director of Jo's Trust Pamela Morton said: "Jo's Trust is committed to cervical cancer prevention and Professor Julian Peto's research in 2004 highlighted the impact of screening on cervical cancer incidence and mortality, and I quote: 'There is strong evidence that women who are screened regularly from a young age have much lower lifelong death rates than women who are first screened when then they are much older."

Last year a total of 4 million women aged 25-64 years were invited for cervical screening in England, but nearly one million did not attend.

Non-attenders were particularly prevalent in London, where there are currently 168,255 women aged 25-64 years who have never been screened.

Maggie Luck, public health screening co-ordinator at Camden PCT, said: "We know that many women put their lives at risk by not attending screening.

"We hope that this campaign will encourage young women to take positive action to get themselves screened and be cervix savvy."

Jo's Trust

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Why do you think young women fail to attend smear tests? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Lack of correct information." - Lorraine Wilkinson, Plymouth

"Our project (Community Health Educators, NHS Lanarkshire) has just done some research on this - older women have suggested that information about smear tests and why they're important should be available through sexual health education in schools and mothers should tell their daughters too. Younger women also don't realise how many young women actually die - and after all, you're indestructable until you're 40 (or have children!) and it's always something that happens to someone else..." - Rees Gallacher, Lanarkshire, Scotland

"I must admit I was put off by feeling as though I was on a production line and no care was given to the fact that I was an individual. OK a GP sees genitals all day long but tact is still an important factor. On my last smear test I was told the sample taken was not going to be submitted as blood was on the cervix. The sample then went into the bin and I was told to make a new appointment a few weeks later, but before that time
came I received a letter to say my test was clear! The issue was raised and no answer was given. Hence I've lost faith in any smear tests carried out by my GP." - Karen, West Midlands

"They are embarrassed and woefully unaware of the implications of not attending, as HPV and cervical cancer only happen to other people. I have always attended my smears reluctantly, but in Nov 07 I had an abnormal smear. In Dec 07 I had a colposcopy, which advised CIN3 and cancerous cells. A further boipsy in Mar 08 was clear and I feel I'm so lucky as  I was told that if I had ignored the irregular bleeding for six months it would have developed into full blown cancer. I am able to say cancer now and know how blessed I am that I went - there is not enough awareness of why smears are so important." - Rita, Northern Ireland

"I just wish I could speak to young women all over the country to stress how important having a smear is. They just are not aware of how important it is not to miss theirs. My daughter didn't go for hers and paid with her life leaving two young sons without their mum. I am now with my district counselor colleagues organising sexual workshops stressing how important smear tests are and educating young people just what a smear test is." - Anne Kemp, North Somerset