New figures released as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (22nd to 28th January 2017) show that the number of women in Wales attending their smear test is at a ten-year low. Cervical cancer charity Jo’s Trust released the figures alongside the re-launch of their #SmearForSmear social media campaign, in a bid to encourage women to attend their cervical screening appointments.
Only 204,100 (77.8 per cent) of women aged 24 to 64 were screened in 2015-2016 in Wales, the lowest since 2006-07. The reasons behind not attending this potentially life-saving test range from worrying about pain or embarrassment, to simply putting it off.
Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “We have one of the best cervical screening programmes in the world saving approximately 5,000 lives every year. However at a time when the number attending in Wales is at a 10 year low, we need to be seeing increased investment in targeted awareness campaigns to encourage women to take up their invitation for cervical screening. Cervical screening prevents 70 per cent of cervical cancers from developing and if we do not prioritise prevention, there will be more women facing the physical and psychological cost of cervical cancer, an increased burden on the NHS and state, and more lives lost.”
Jo’s Trust found that over half (51 per cent) of the 25-29 year old UK women surveyed have delayed or not attended cervical screening with almost one quarter (24 per cent) admitting they have delayed for over one year and almost one in ten (9 per cent) having never attended the test which provides the best protection against cervical cancer.
When asked about accessing screening, of those who reported delaying or never attending:
- 57 per cent would like the opportunity to attend cervical screening at a GP practice of their choice e.g. one close to work
- 35 per cent would like the opportunity to attend a walk-in appointment at a sexual health clinic
- 65 per cent would like the opportunity to self-test at home
Dr Rosemary Fox, Director of the Screening Division of Public Health Wales, added: “It’s positive that eight out of 10 women do attend for their smears and gain the protection against cancer that screening offers. I’d like to encourage the women who have doubts about cervical screening, or find it difficult, not to ignore their screening invitation. I’d advise them to talk to their GP or practice nurse about screening, and give it a try- it could save their life!”
Pelican Feminine Healthcare is continuing to support Jo’s Trust in their bid to make cervical cancer a disease of the past. The company has donated nearly £60,000 from units sold of the market-leading PELIspec vaginal speculum (5p from every box is donated to Jo’s Trust) and as part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week has been raising awareness to all staff at their Cardiff office.
Please click here for further information on Jo’s Trust.