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Cervical screening drops to five year low

26 January 2017


Women between the ages of 25-64 are being urged to attend cervical screening appointments, as test numbers drop to a five-year low in Bedfordshire.

The call came from Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, the organisation responsible for planning and purchasing NHS funded healthcare for the borough after figures from Public Health England showed that only 75% of women in Bedfordshire attended regular screening appointments.

While the figure for Bedfordshire is 2% higher than the national average, it still falls short of the NHS target to screen 80% of women regularly.

Dr Kay Elliott, Cancer lead for the Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group said, “It is worrying there is a decline in the number of women going for a regular cervical screening test. About 20 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Bedfordshire every year, but if we’re to bring that number down, we need to encourage more women to attend regular screening appointments and have the HPV vaccination, which helps us to prevent the disease.” 

In 2008/09, the number of cervical screening tests reached an all-time high after the death of TV personality, Jade Goody. However, over time numbers have started to fall year on year across the country.

Dr Kay Elliott said: “Many women feel embarrassed about screening tests, but help is available for those who are concerned – they can speak in confidence to their practice nurse or GP.

“The test is simple and quick and new screening techniques mean that the process is faster and more reliable, with fewer samples returned as inadequate.

“Cervical screening tests can be performed during a routine appointment with a practice nurse and patients can be accompanied by a friend or chaperone, as necessary, to stay with them during the consultation.”

Symptoms of cervical cancer may include abnormal vaginal bleeding and more rarely pelvic pain.

Women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited for regular cervical screening under the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. A total of 4.21 million women aged 25 to 64 were invited for screening in 2015-16. The first test is offered at age 25, then every 3 years until age 39 after 50 every 5 years until age 65.

Approximately 3,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer and just under 1,000 women die from the disease a year.

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