Cervical Screening Awareness Week (8–14 June 2014) is a UK-wide initiative led by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. The week aims to highlight the importance of cervical screening (smear test) and how attending a screening invitation can help to prevent cervical cancer.
Cervical screening is the process of taking a sample of cells from the cervix which are then examined to detect abnormalities that might become cancerous in the future.
However, in the UK, over 20% of women do not attend their cervical screening.
Recommendations made by the UK NSC for standard cervical screening state that all women over the age of 25 should be regularly screened to detect any irregular or pre-cancerous cells in their cervix. It is recommended that women who are between 25 and 49 years should be screened every three years, and women between 50 and 64 screened every five years.
Dr David Richmond, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists said:
“Raising awareness of cervical cancer prevention is extremely important. Attending cervical screening when invited by your GP is vital as the test can pick up any abnormalities. Many of these will not be serious and may disappear but some may become cancerous if left.
“Preventative medicine needs to be the main focus rather than intervention which can sometimes be too late. As part of the life-course approach, we encourage women to lead a healthy lifestyle putting the individual at the centre of their care throughout their life and take responsibility for their health.
“The NHS Cancer Screening programme has led to a significant reduction in the rate of cervical cancer and the RCOG encourages all women to attend cervical screening when invited and to contact their GP if they think they are overdue for a screening appointment.”