Luton Clinical Commissioning Group

NHS Luton Clinical Commissioning Group


Cervical screening saves lives

11 March 2019

News graphic
Women between the ages of 25 and 64 in Luton and Bedfordshire are being reminded of the importance of cervical screening.

Since the NHS Cervical Screening Programme was established in 1988 there has been a significant reduction in the mortality rate from cervical cancer, saving an estimated 5,000 lives a year. However, figures published by NHS Digital show that the number of women being screened is at a 20-year low, with one in four women failing to respond to letters from their GP surgery inviting them to make an appointment to have this simple but potentially life-saving health check.

To reverse this worrying trend, Public Health England is launching the first ever national campaign to raise awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and the preventative benefits of screening, which is also known as a smear test.

NHS England advises women aged between 25 and 49 to have cervical screening every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 should be screened every five years. Although the number of women getting tested has fallen generally, research shows it is women between the ages of 25 to 35 who are least likely to attend a screening appointment.

GP and Luton Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) lead clinician for cancer care Dr Anitha Bolanthur said: “Cervical cancer can be prevented by the early detection of abnormal cells in a regular smear test. The incidence of cervical cancer is higher among younger women, so I can’t stress enough how important it is for this age group to get tested. Cervical screening is nothing to be worried or embarrassed about, and every woman should view it as an essential part of their healthcare. If they have any concerns about taking the test they should discuss them with their GP or practice nurse.”

There are around 2,600 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in England each year and two women every day die from the disease. Cervical screening can stop cancer before it starts by preventing potentially harmful cells from developing.

Dr Saheli Chaudhury is a GP with a specialist interest in women's health and is Bedfordshire CCG’s lead for cancer care. “I think it’s so important for women to have regular smear testing as part of their self-care to maintain good health overall. I am very much a ‘prevention is better than cure’ type of doctor and having a five minute test can be potentially life-saving. I encourage all women to get tested regularly.”

Don’t ignore your cervical screening invitation. If you missed your last screening, book an appointment with your GP surgery now – it could save your life.

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