Cervical screening attendance is at a 19 year low, which is why Cervical Screening Awareness week (taking place this week) is more important than ever before.
Recent statistics show that in 2015/16 only 77.8% of women are attending the life-saving test. Reasons for not attending include embarrassment, fear that it will be painful, or simply putting it off.
In addition to this, almost half of women (44.2%) are unaware of what the cervix is. 1 in 6 could not name a single function of the cervix, with less than half the people surveyed aware that it connects the womb to the vagina, and only 1 in 3 knowing that it provides a seal to hold the baby in while pregnant.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust released these new statistics as part of Cervical Screening Awareness Week to encourage women to talk about their cervical health. Through increasing awareness of the important role of the cervix, the charity hopes to increase awareness of cervical cancer and most importantly, how it can be prevented through cervical screening.
Cervical cancer claims 2 lives every day in the UK and it’s the most common cancer among women under 35. Cervical screening can prevent up to 75% of cervical cancers, yet cervical screening attendance is at a 19 year low in England, and a 10 year low in Wales and Scotland. These figures mask huge differences across ages and areas:
- In London only 55.2% of 25-29 year olds have attended screening, dropping to 46.5% in several boroughs
- Coverage in South Gloucestershire is the highest in the country with 81.9%, the lowest is Kensington and Chelsea at just 55.5%
- In Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool, Hammersmith and Fulham, Camden and Westminster only around 64% of 60-64 year olds have attended in the last five years
- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has the lowest screening uptakes in Scotland with only 71.1% attending
- Hywel Dda University Health Board and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board have the lowest uptake in Wales with only 76.3% and 76.5% attending respectively
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “We cannot afford to see cervical screening attendance fall any further. Diagnoses of cervical cancer in the UK are worryingly high and will only increase if more women don’t attend screening. We want to encourage women to look after their health, including the health of their cervix and that means attending cervical screening. By not attending, women are significantly increasing their risk of a life-threatening disease. During Cervical Screening Awareness Week, I want to encourage women to talk to their friends, mothers and daughters about the steps they can take to reduce their risk of cervical cancer.”
Marianne Wood, Colposcopy Nurse, added: “Cervical screening looks for abnormal cells on the cervix which could develop into cancer if not treated or monitored but it’s really important to remember that the majority of cervical screening tests come back with no abnormal cells. If you are nervous or unsure about attending then please do talk to the nurse performing your test who will be able to explain what will happen and answer any questions you have. Cervical screening may be uncomfortable but it should not be painful and remember, the nurses will really try to make you feel at ease if you feel embarrassed in any way. I want to encourage every woman to attend their appointment when invited and not delay. It’s such an important five-minute test that really could save your life.”
Find out more about Cervical Screening Awareness Week at www.jostrust.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/cervical-screening-awareness-week