UK & World News
GPs 'Should Offer On-The-Spot Smear Tests'
Women should be offered on-the-spot smear tests during regular doctor's appointments, according to a new study.
All women in the UK aged between 25 and 65 are offered the test regularly every three years to screen for cervical cancer.
A smear test can also detect pre-cancerous cells, that could lead to cancer, making it a highly effective preventative measure.
The recommendation comes from the think tank Demos, working alongside charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.
Jo Salter from Demos told Sky News: "We think that doctors are really crucial to tackling this problem because they are the gatekeepers who invite women to be screened, but often they are a barrier because they can't get an appointment or because their GP is quite off-putting about it."
It has found 3,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. Of those, 900 will die from the disease.
Cervical cancer is the third most common gynaecological cancer in the UK.
Currently only 78% of eligible women take up the test - but with a 100% screening rate, the number of those diagnosed with the illness would be cut in half.
For GPs, who are already very short of time, it is another thing to have to fit into an appointment slot.
Dr David Lloyd, from The Ridgeway Surgery in Harrow, said: "In a 10-minute appointment we have to cover the problem that the patient came with in the first place ... then, if she hadn't had a recent smear, we'd have to have a discussion with the patient.
"Some women may not want to have a smear at that stage as it's a bit more than just having your blood pressure taken and then there's a little extra time on everything else."
Embarrassment, busy lives and finding the test painful are among the reasons given by women who avoid screening.