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Publication Date: 02/10/2017 

Focus on importance of getting your smear test 

Consultant Jennifer says it's a lifesaver 


Public health consultant Dr Jennifer Darnborough  

An NHS Lanarkshire consultant is encouraging women who missed their last smear test to contact their GP practice, as it could save their life.

The move comes as the second phase of a national campaign begins, encouraging women to attend their cervical screening appointment.

The “Flower” campaign, running on social media throughout October, throws a spotlight on the importance of screening for cervical cancer, commonly known as a smear test.

NHS Lanarkshire public health consultant Dr Jennifer Darnborough is worried that not enough women are going for the potentially life-saving smear test.

Jennifer explained: “Cervical screening works really well and by picking up changes before symptoms develop and treating them. Smear testing prevents around eight out of 10 cervical cancers from developing in the first place. It is thought to save around 5,000 lives a year in the UK.

“Cervical cancer most commonly affects women in their 30s and 40s, but it can affect women of any age, so older women should still take part when invited.

 “Women aged between 25 and 64 receive a cervical screening invite every three to five years. But less than 80 per cent of them have taken up the offer in Lanarkshire in the past five years.

“If more women are screened, we can prevent more cases of cervical cancer and reduce deaths. The test only takes a few minutes and will be carried out by an experienced female smear taker, who does this testing all the time.

“I know women will worry about the results when they have a smear test - I can assure you that I do too. But over 90 per cent of us will be given the all-clear.

“A few women are invited back for further smears or for investigation and treatment as an outpatient. This treatment can prevent cancer from developing in the first place.

“While screening is our best protection against cervical cancer, it is important to visit your doctor if you spot any symptoms. They include lower back pain, pain during sex, bleeding during or after sex or in between periods, bleeding after going through the menopause and any unusual vaginal discharge.”

A ‘toolkit’ has been developed and introduced across Lanarkshire GP practices, describing easy and helpful ways to increase the uptake of cervical screening. The kit includes how to organise ‘smear amnesties/pop-up clinics’ – where women are offered personalised appointments if they have not been for a test for some time.

There is also help for women with limited mobility and NHS Lanarkshire is also working with its learning disability service to address low uptake among the women they see.

Jennifer stressed: “Please don’t miss the opportunity when you get your invitation. Make that appointment.”

For further information visit - http://getcheckedearly.org/cervical-cancer