Figures, recently released by the NHS have revealed that the taken-up rate for cervical screenings in Torbay has increased.

However, despite the encouraging figures only 73% of the 32,900 women who were due a smear test before the end of March 2018 attended an appointment.

This means that in total 23,984 missed out on the ‘life-saving’ programme.

Cancer charities have said that the plummeting attendance rate in England is enormously worrying.

Overall, across England, the number has also fallen for a fourth year, reaching 71.4% last year.

Robert Music, CEO of Jo’s Cervical Cancer trust, said:

These statistics are highly frustrating and, coupled with rising cervical cancer diagnoses, an enormous worry.

“Women in England are frankly being let down.

“Many struggle to get screening appointments at their GP, access through sexual health is declining, and there is limited provision for those requiring extra support including survivors of sexual violence or those with a learning disability.

“We cannot sit back and let cervical screening coverage continue to plummet or diagnoses of this often preventable cancer will rise and more mothers, daughters, sisters and friends will be lost.”

The purpose of cervical screening is to look for changes in the cells of the cervix which could develop into cancer.

Women who are aged between 25 and 49 are invited for a screening every three years, whilst those who are aged between 50 and 64 have to attend every 5 years.

Back in Torbay it was found that 71.5% of all 25-49 year olds attended their screening compared to 76.2% of those aged between 50 and 64.

In the event that you do not have a test within 6 months of the last initiation you are regarded as having not attended.

Karis Betts, Cancer Research UK said:

“Some women don’t know screening is for people without symptoms and there can also be practical or cultural reasons why they might find it difficult to make an appointment.

We need to fully understand the reasons behind the figures to make screening as accessible and effective as possible.

We know screening saves 2,000 lives each year, so we would encourage people to think about taking part when they receive their invitation.”

Professor Anne Mackie, director of screening at Public Health England, which is in charge of the cervical screening programme said:

“We know that for some women worries about embarrassment or discomfort can put them off.

If they are concerned they can ask a GP or practice nurse who can explain what’s involved and help them make a choice about screening.

We’re supporting the NHS to reach more women by raising awareness about the test, and early next year we’re launching a Be Clear on Cancer campaign focusing on the importance of cervical screening.”

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