NHS in Leeds issues cervical screening test reminder as national campaign launched

In support of Public Health England's national cervical screening campaign, NHS Leeds CCG is highlighting the importance of the cervical screening test to women in Leeds.

Women in Leeds are being reminded of the importance of their cervical screening test following the launch of a national campaign by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England.

NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is highlighting the importance of the cervical screening test (smear test) and how it can help detect cancer sooner. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35 with nine women diagnosed with the cancer every day.

The national campaign aims to tackle misconceptions about the cervical screening process. It encourages women to attend their smear tests when invited by local health services (such as GP practices) and shows the risks associated with missing the test.

Dr Sarah Forbes, Associate Medical Director at NHS Leeds CCG, said, “Unfortunately the number of women attending for cervical screening has dropped off in recent years. Cervical cancer can be treated if caught at an early stage by cervical screening. Catching it at a pre-cancerous stage requires women to go along to the GP practice to have a simple test when called. Results will be posted back in 2-3 weeks.”

“Cancer care in Leeds is currently undergoing significant transformation and investment through the Leeds Cancer Programme. The Prevention, Screening and Awareness work stream aims to significantly reduce the number of preventable cancers such as cervical cancer. Leeds Cancer Programme is a partnership between the NHS in Leeds, Macmillan and Leeds City Council and has so far brought £4.5m of additional funding to cancer services in the city.”

Cervical cancer is a cancer that is preventable, and one of the best ways to do this is through the cervical screening test. However, screening in England is at a 20 year low according to figures published by NHS Digital on 31 March 2018. The city of Leeds has seen a drop of 1 percentage point for women aged 25 to 49 to 71.4% and a fall of 0.8 percentage points to 77.5% for women aged 50 to 64 between 2017 and 2018.

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme has made a significant impact on the cervical cancer mortality since it was established in 1988, saving an estimated 5,000 lives a year. It is estimated that if all eligible women attended screening regularly 83% of cancer deaths could be prevented. The NHS cervical screening programme is available to women aged 25 to 64 in England.

More information cervical cancer can be found on the NHS website https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-cancer/