Smear Test Overdue? It Looks Like You’re Not The Only One

The number of eligible women going for smear tests has dropped - and some women don't even know the screening exists

Smear Test Overdue? It Looks Like You’re Not The Only One

by Gemma Faithfull |
Published on

A new study carried out by University College London30919-X/fulltext){href='' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer'} has found that over 1/4 of women in the UK are not having cervical cancer screenings. The percentage of those eligible who have been screen has been falling since 2011and there was a 3% drop between 2011 and 2016.

UCL discovered that women were not participating in the tests for a range of reasons, but shockingly 28% of us are unaware that the screening even exists. In England, women living in deprived areas are more likely to be diagnosed, however, they are also the least likely group to be tested. The most likely reason that these females are going untested is due to their unawareness For women ages 25-34, the percentage of those uninformed is almost at 50%, which highlights a major problem in the ways individuals are told about smear tests.

The leader of the study, Dr Jo Waller, explained how the NHS needs to change the format in which they attempt to communicate with women in order to educate those that are unaware. 'The results around lack of awareness suggest that campaigns using TV, radio, social media or face-to-face visits may be better ways of communicating with women about screening than relying on letters in the post, which is the current method.'

Over half of women that have not been screened have been intending to do so but are currently overdue. There is a gap between intention and action that needs to be tackled, specifically in young people. Okay, I get it, it’s a well-known opinion that women find the test embarrassing and hard to book an appointment for, but this is all about prevention and being as informed as possible in the fight against cervical cancer.

Dr Jo Waller described how, for many females, a sense of immediate importance is missing. 'For women who find making an appointment stays on tomorrow’s to-do list, simple steps such as extra reminders, or specific appointment slots for first-time screenings could really make a difference and potentially save lives.'

Cervical cancer is the 13th most common cancer for females in the UK, with over 3,000 new cases in 2014 alone. 100% of cervical cancer cases each year are linked to major lifestyle and other risk factors meaning that every single case is preventable.

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Follow Gemma on Twitter @gemmafaithfull

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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