Every year in the UK, around 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week.
Did you know that every day nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and three lose their lives?
Attending cervical screening reduces the risk of cervical cancer yet one in four women fail to attend cervical screening every year.
Those most likely to miss their appointments are 25-29 year olds followed by older women. Not going for cervical screening is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer.
Research shows that across the UK figures show a significant rise of women failing to attend for their smear – as age increases, suggesting that as women age, they consider screening less important. Why ?
The most frequently endorsed barriers for not attending were embarrassment (29%), intending to go when due for a test, but not getting round to it straight away (21%), worrying that smear tests are painful (14%), being scared of what a smear test might find (12%), having a bad experience of a smear test in the past (9%), and difficulty getting an appointment that would fit with work/childcare commitments (7%).
Polling for Jo’s Trust released earlier this year pointed to a lack of flexibility by employers and GPs in enabling women to attend cervical screening. Many women blamed a lack of appointment choices and difficulty getting time off work.
There was also embarrassment at talking to employers about screening tests, with some women taking days off for their tests instead. Some women felt, as they were menopausal age, not important or reduced sexual activity made it less relevant. How wrong can we be?
From personal experience I know how we avoid the smear test, not intentionally but by accident or lack of urgency – on the list of to dos but not giving it high priority.
For older women this is where dangerous assumptions are made about what’s going on in your body. After a lifetime of normal regular periods, everything changed over a few months – heavier, longer and not the same. Menopause I thought. Months later the smear reminder. Had the smear test and everything happened very fast – polyps discovered – removed – cancer cells discovered – early diagnosis – early treatment. If this had not happened undiagnosed cancer discovered late would have reduced my life.
Think on. Get that letter out and book that appointment – it really can save your life. Check out: https://www.jostrust.org.uk