In the UK around 3,000 women per year are diagnosed with cervical cancer, yet 22 percent of women do not think cervical screening (smear tests) are important enough to have regularly, according to new research from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Grasnet.
Unfortunately, the research also revealed that one in three women (33 percent) have delayed or not attended what could potentially be life-saving screening.
Tracy Pilcher, Chief Nurse at Lincolnshire East CCG, said: “In 2014, more than one third of diagnoses were in women over 50 and those aged 50-64 are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced stage cervical cancer, with 49 percent as stage two or later, so it is vital that we do whatever we can to highlight the lack of understanding of cervical cancer and cervical cancer screening among women over 50.”
Cervical screening is the most effective way of preventing cervical cancer but, despite this, figures for screening uptake in England show a significant drop over the age of 50.
Uptake fell from 81.6 percent for 50-54 year olds, to 74.8 percent for 55-59 year olds, and 73.2 percent for 60-64 year olds (screened within five years).
Tracy added: “The drop in screening with age is deeply concerning, particularly as this means incidences of cervical cancer will increase significantly if current uptake of screening remains the same.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for women to have regular cervical screening.
“Annually it is estimated that screening saves 5,000 lives per year in the UK, yet 22 percent of women do not attend for screening regularly.”
Some recognised symptoms associated with cervical cancer that women are advised to be aware of include abnormal bleeding (during or after sexual intercourse, or between periods); post-menopausal bleeding; unusual or unpleasant vaginal discharge; discomfort or pain during sex; and lower back pain.
Tracy concluded: “During the early stages, cervical cancer will not often have any symptoms and the best way for it to be detected is through screening.
“Any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.
“Prevention is key to improving survival rates and cervical screening will save lives.”