‘Don’t be embarrassed – this could save your life.”
That’s the message from Fylde coast medics to local women, after statistics revealed the number of women nationally attending smear tests is at its lowest level for more than a decade.
A survey by the cancer charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust showed 80 per cent of young women felt embarrassment at the thought of the test and it was the most common reason given for not attending for cervical screening.
In the UK, there are around nine new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed on average, every day. Statistics show more than 95 per cent of cases of cervical cancer are preventable.
And that’s why doctors on the Fylde coast are so keen for women to come get tested.
The test only takes a few minutes and the Fylde coast even has special hubs which carry out cervical screening out of office hours – in the evenings and weekends, for busy women who may not be able to attend on a week day.
Dr Adam Janjua, a Fleetwood GP, vice chairman of NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Group and cancer lead, said: “It’s important to stress that it’s not a test for cancer. It’s a test for abnormal cells, which have the potential to develop in the future. It doesn’t mean you have cancer.
“Depending on the result, there might be treatment to remove the cells, or they might just keep an eye on things. The best analogy I could use is one of a leaking pipe in your house. And you don’t really want to get a plumber into your home to fix it. But wouldn’t you rather someone came and fixed this small leak, rather than you just leave it and eventually it develops, and floods your whole house?
“I find the most common reason for not attending when I talk to patients is body image. They worry about not looking a certain way. But the nurses who carry out the screening are professionals, they might see 20 women a day, they won’t judge, they just want people to come in for screening.
“In Blackpool, uptake of screening can be as low as 25 per cent and in Fleetwood, just 10 per cent. We saw an increase when the TV star Jade Goody died from cervical cancer, but now that effect has worn off.”