Cervical cancer prevention week: Havering GPs urge more women to take smear tests

A consultant reviewing a smear test. Picture: Haydn West

A consultant reviewing a smear test. Picture: Haydn West - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Around 30pc of women in Havering aged 25-49 are not getting smear tests when invited, according to worrying figures from the borough’s healthcare experts.

GPs in the borough are urging women to attend regular cervical cancer screening to reduce their risk of developing the potentially-fatal disease.

Smear tests help to identify pre-cancerous cells and the procedure saves an estimated 5,000 lives each year in the UK.

Dr Maurice Synomi, clinical director for cancer services at Redbridge CCG, said he is concerned that some women are still not taking the opportunity to have this free and potentially life-saving screening.

“I cannot emphasise enough the importance of women attending their smear test when invited,” he said.

“Prevention is key to improving cancer survival rates, and the CCG is supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week to increase screening uptake in Havering.”

Women aged between 50 and 64 have better cervical screening rates in the borough and 79.1pc attend appointments, but the figure could still be better.

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All women registered with a GP and aged between 25 and 64 are invited for a free NHS smear test every three to five years.

However, despite the importance of screening, one in four women still fail to attend their smear test – and nine new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed every day.

Symptoms of cervical cancer are not always obvious, and may not be present until the cancer has reached a late stage.

Some of the signs include abnormal vaginal bleeding during or after sex, or between periods, unusual vaginal discharge, and lower back pain.

A full list of symptoms is available at NHS Choices.

Dr Synomi added: “It’s also essential women know the signs and symptoms of cervical cancer.

“If anyone experiences symptoms associated with cervical cancer, they should book an appointment with their GP.”

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is an annual campaign by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and it will run from today until Friday in 2018.

Residents are encouraged to take a selfie of themselves with smeared lipstick and share it on social media – accompanied by the hashtag #SmearForSmear

More information about the campaign and how to get involved contact Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust on 020 3096 8100 or visit jostrust.org.uk.