One in four Sheffield women are not going for vital smear tests, statistics show

More than a quarter of women in Sheffield who should be going for tests to check for signs of a deadly cancer are neglecting to do so, figures have revealed.

Thursday, 28th February 2019, 14:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th February 2019, 14:07 pm
Smear test

In the city, just under 73 per cent of eligible women are taking up their invite to go for a smear test, which screens for abnormal cells that can develop into cervical cancer.

The statistic mirrors a national trend.

Smear test

“Unfortunately, there has been a fall in women nationally attending their cervical screening over the last few years,” said Kathy Wakefield, senior screening and immunisation manager at NHS England North.

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"We work closely with our NHS partners across South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw as well as Macmillan, Be Cancer Safe and Cancer Research UK, to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening and its role in preventing cancer, as well as encouraging women to go for their screening test when invited.” 

Every year, the lives of 2,000 women are saved through smear tests. However, this number would be higher if more women attended screenings.

Online petitions have been created and signed to try and lower the age at which people become eligible for tests, in order to detect symptoms sooner and raise awareness of the issue. Women aged 25 to 64 are sent invites presently.

The latest petition, which aimed to lower the age to 18, gained 205,356 signatures and was discussed in Parliament in January. 

Teresa Ravenshaw, of Sheffield Mind’s cancer ambassadors programme, said mental health issues could be a key reason for woman missing their smear tests.

“Not knowing to expect can play on anxiety levels, so doing some research or talking to people can help – you can take someone with you, so if you already have a support worker they could be your chaperone.

“Finally, if you have concerns, speak to someone – family, friends or contact Sheffield Mind. Set yourself goals – make one of them to get your concerns checked out by attending a screening.” 

Dr Tim Moorhead, chair of NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Women who don’t attend their appointments are the most vulnerable in developing more serious complications. Usually there are no symptoms with cervical cancer, so it is only by having a smear test that any abnormal cells within the cervix can be found before they develop into cancer.”

“Five minutes out of your day could save your life.Having a smear test is hugely important as early detection of any abnormalities within the cervix can lead to a better chance of successful treatment.” 

Visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalscreening for details.