Women across Bedford Borough are being reminded of the importance of cervical screening as one in four women fail to respond to reminders from GPs for the potentially life-saving health check.
Two women in England die every day from Cervical cancer and around 2,600 cases diagnosed each year, but the NHS Cervical Screening Programme saves an estimated 5,000 lives a year in England.
But the decline in appointments has led Public Health England to launch its first ever national campaign to raise awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and the preventative benefits of the smear test.
Current guidelines suggest that women between the ages of 25 and 49 should be screened for the disease every three years, extending to every five years for those aged 50 to 64.
Dr Saheli Chaudhury is a specialist in women’s health and Bedfordshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group’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 five minutes having a test can be potentially life-saving. I encourage all women to get tested regularly.”
Meanwhile, Luton’s Clinical Commissioning Group’s lead clinician for cancer care, Dr Anitha Bolanthur, explains why smear tests for younger women are so essential: “The incidence of cervical cancer is highest 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.”