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Cervical screening rates fall to all-time low

19th February: Cervical cancer rates in under 35s have continued to soar, whilst the number having smear tests has fallen to an all-time low.

In the last 10 years, the number of 25 to 29-year old women diagnosed with cervical cancer has soared by 59.2%.

However, last year one million women failed to turn up for their smear tests. One in five women missed screening with uptake falling below 78% for the first time in 20 years. Among those aged 25 – 29, uptake fell to 66.3%.

Last year alone, 33.7% of 35 to 29 year olds failed to make their scheduled smear test appointment, while 22.3% of 30 to 34 year olds missed their appointment.

Eight women a day are diagnosed with the disease in the UK and it is the most common form of cancer among those aged under 35.

While some women admit to being embarrassed about going for screening tests, others said they are concerned it will be painful or think they are not necessary.

The campaign #SmearForSmear launched recently as part of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust aimed to engage celebrities and social media users to raise awareness of the importance of attending a smear appointment.

The charity has also raised concerns over a lack of knowledge with more than half of young women unable to identify the cause of cervical cancer as the human papillomavirus (HPV).

One in 10 women believe smear tests detect sexually transmitted infections, while 13.5 per cent thought it was a test for ovarian cancer.

Mr Jullien Brady, Clinical Director of GynaeHealth UK said “Every day we learn of the devastating impact a cervical cancer diagnosis has on not only the woman, but her family and friends around her. To know that for those who delayed or missed screening prior to diagnosis, this could have been prevented, is simply tragic and unnecessary”.

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