Doctors across Doncaster are calling for women to attend their smear test appointments to help more women live healthy lives.
Launched this week by Public Health England and NHS England, the first ever national cervical screening campaign is targeting women who are eligible for screening.
Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year and around 690 women die from the disease. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.
Nationally, attendance at screening appointments is at a 20-year low, with one in four women in the UK not attending their cervical screening.
In Doncaster, the number of women aged 25 to 64 that attended their cervical screening appointment in 2017-18 was 74.2%**, slightly higher than the national average of 71.7%.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the risks of cervical cancer and highlight the preventative benefits of screening; encouraging women to respond to their screening invitation letters, and if they missed previous invites, to book an appointment.
Research conducted by Public Health England shows that there are a number of barriers to screening including concern that it might be painful and embarrassing. The campaign aims to tackle some of these barriers, encouraging more women to book and attend their appointments.
Dr David Crichton, GP and Chair, NHS Clinical Commissioning Group said: “I am pleased to see this important national campaign raising awareness of cervical cancer.
“Whilst the number of women attending their cervical smear appointments in Doncaster is above the national average, we need to do more to encourage as many women as possible to attend.
“Women who don’t attend their appointments are the most vulnerable in developing more serious complications. Usually there are no symptoms with cervical cancer, so it is only by having a smear test that any abnormal cells within the cervix can be found before they develop into cancer. This short, five minute appointment could save lives.”
Kathy Wakefield, Senior Screening and Immunisation Manager at NHS England North said: “Unfortunately, there has been a fall in women nationally attending their cervical screening over the last few years.
“Cervical screening is simple, quick and while the procedure can be a little bit uncomfortable, it isn’t painful. We urge local women to take a few minutes out of their day to attend this incredibly important appointment.”
Julia Jessop, Cancer Alliance Programme Director, South Yorkshire, Bassetlaw and North Derbyshire Cancer Alliance said: “Over 80% of cervical cancer cases are preventable, we need to raise awareness of that fact and also raise awareness of the importance of cervical cancer screening.
“This PHE campaign is a great start and I would urge every woman to attend their cervical cancer screening test.”
March is also Ovarian Cancer month, a dedicated month of action to raise awareness of five gynaecological cancers; womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal. For more information visit the Eve appeal website.
The national campaign runs for eight weeks and includes advertising on TV, social media and other communication channels that women tend to access.