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Manchester women encouraged to get check-ups as part of Cervical Screening Awareness Week

By Helen Le Caplain

Cancer Research officials are urging Manchester women to attend health check-ups and have smear tests during Cervical Screening Awareness Week which runs from June 6 – June 12.

According to NHS statistics 20% of women in the UK still do not attend their cervical screenings, this event seeks to raise public awareness of cervical cancer prevention.

Jessica Harris, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said that smear tests save thousands of lives in the UK every year.

She said: “Cervical screening is a great way of preventing cervical cancer from developing in the first place, by diagnosing and treating changes that could become cancer if left alone.”

In the UK, over 4 million women are invited to attend a screening each year, approximately 80% of women attend, but this means a significant number of women do not. And this is a trend that cancer charities are keen to reverse.

Ms Harris added: “On the last day of cervical screening awareness week, Cancer Research UK encourages women to take up screening when invited.”

Jade Goody’s well-publicised battle with cervical cancer in 2008 and subsequent death in 2009 renewed public interest and sparked a debate on the subject of screening.

Campaigners called for the reduction in the age limit from 25, to include women as young as 20 for NHS-funded smear tests.

This crescendo of public interest led to a policy review in June 2009 by the independent Advisory Committee on Cervical Screening about starting screening at age 25.

They agreed unanimously there should be no change in the current policy.

One committee member, Professor Sasieni, said that medical evidence suggested that the harms of screening women aged under 25 outweighed the benefits.

However not all those in the medical profession agree with this approach.

This Morning’s resident doctor, Dr Chris Steele, launched his own campaign in April this year and said he was ‘annoyed and professionally frustrated’ that tests aren’t available for younger women.

He said: “It fails miserably those women who are under 25.”

 Ms Harris said that regardless of age, women should be aware of any unusual symptoms and go to their GP if they have any concerns.

She said: “If you notice anything out of the ordinary, like bleeding in between periods or after the menopause, it’s a good idea to get it checked out by your doctor.”

For more information about cervical screenings go to http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/ 

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