UK & World News
Women 'Risk Lives' By Skipping Cervical Tests
Women could be risking their lives by not going for regular cervical screening because of fears about the process, a charity has warned.
The simple test, to which all women aged over 25 are invited regularly, is vital to help doctors spot any abnormal cells which could later turn into cancer.
Cervical cancer kills around three women every day in the UK, and is the most common type affecting women under 35.
Yet research, commissioned by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, showed one in three 25 to 29-year-olds do not take up their invitations for a smear test.
While 26% of young women were delaying their first screening because they worried it would be painful and embarrassing.
Among those aged 60-64, more than a quarter do not attend screening - which is particularly concerning as cervical cancer in this age group has gone up by 29% in a year.
Robert Music, the chief executive of the charity, said: "Already we are seeing an increase in incidence for older women and we are very worried that the number of diagnoses amongst women in their late twenties will also go up."
Mother-of-two Laura Clifton, 36, who has stage four cervical cancer, says she regrets having delayed her cervical screening tests for several years.
"It's so easy to just put it off to the back burner - I did it, and now I'm living a different life and I don't want people in the same situation as me."
She is undergoing chemotherapy.
"The doctors have said that it is near on impossible for them to be able to cure me so the treatment I am having is to prolong my life for as long as possible."
In 2009, when reality TV star Jade Goody was losing her battle with cervical cancer - the number of women going for smear tests increased by around 12% - but the trend did not last.
Rates are now back down to levels seen before Jade's diagnosis.
Alison White, a clinical services manager for sexual and reproductive health services at the Margaret Pyke Centre in Kings Cross, stressed the importance of getting checked.
"If everything is fine it's a three to five-year screening programme so it's not as if you have to do it overly often.
"The sooner you have one done - if there is anything wrong or anything detected - then you can have it sorted out quicker."
Miss Clifton said she hoped highlighting her case would prevent other women from putting off their smear tests.
"It may be uncomfortable, but two minutes of being uncomfortable could give you years on your life."
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