Health commissioners and Sefton Council are supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (Monday 21 January – Sunday 27 January) which aims to raise awareness of cervical cancer and the importance of screening.
NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Southport and Formby CCG and Sefton Council are encouraging women (aged 25 to 64) to have cervical screening to reduce their risk of developing cervical cancer. The test detects human papilloma virus (HPV) and signs of early abnormal cells.
Dr Graeme Allan, Macmillan GP and primary care cancer lead at NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “Cervical cancer affects around 3,000 women in the UK every year, making it the most common form of cancer for women under the age of 35. According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, 75 per cent of these cases can be prevented through testing.
“In both NHS South Sefton CCG and NHS Southport and Formby CCG the uptake of cervical screenings by eligible women in 2017/18 had decreased from the previous year. The decrease in the uptake of this screening is worrying; we strongly encourage all eligible women to have regular cervical screenings.”
Dr Debbie Harvey, Macmillan GP at NHS South Sefton CCG, said: “Women aged 25 to 49 are offered screening every three years and 50 to 64 year olds are every five years. When it’s time for your next smear test, you should be sent a letter inviting you to make an appointment. It’s quick and simple and it looks for the human papilloma virus (HPV). If positive for the virus, your sample will then be tested for early abnormal cells.
“Contact your GP if you think you may be overdue a test. Screening appointments can now be made with practice nurses and if it’s more convenient you can also book to have your screening with the 7-day GP service that operates evenings and weekends.”
Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “It is concerning to see that the uptake of cervical screenings in Sefton has declined; this means that many women may unknowingly be living with abnormal cells or signs of HPV.
“I urge all women in Sefton who are eligible for a smear test to make an appointment with their GP and help protect their health.”
Robert Music, chief executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “Cervical screening is the best way to help prevent cervical cancer. Yet screening uptake in England is at a 21-year low. This is especially concerning as we are seeing the number of diagnoses rise.
“That is why during this year’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, it is more important than ever to ensure that people understand the steps they can take to reduce their risk of this disease.”
For more information on cervical cancer and what the screening test involves, please visit: www.nhs.uk/cervicalcancer