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Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s only charity dedicated to supporting women with cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities, is calling on women in Scotland to take up their cervical screening invitation as figures announced yesterday show the second lowest uptake in over ten years (see note 1).
Although the report shows a surge in women being screened in 2008/9 and 2009/10 due to the Jade Goody effect, since 2001/2, the number of women choosing to have the life saving test has declined almost year on year to fall from a peak of 81.7% to 73% in 2011/12.
The report also shows Glasgow’s uptake figures slip by a further 0.5% on the previous year to 69.5% - the lowest in Scotland. Other areas that reported lower than average screening results include the Lothian (71.3%) and Fife (72.1%). The highest results were posted in Shetland (80.1%), Orkney (79.9%) and the Borders (77%).
Robert Music, Director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, comments: “These figures are concerning. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in young women under 35 in the UK and it kills three women every day. Yet this is a cancer that is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening.
“The UK screening programme saves around 5,000 lives every year yet more and more Scottish women are putting off a visit to their GP.
“Through research commissioned by the charity, we have found several barriers to screening attendance. These include women suffering fear or embarrassment of the test as well as a lack of flexibility from both GP’s for appointment times and employers allowing time off to have the procedure. In addition in all the surveys we ran there was a poor understanding of cervical cancer generally, its causes and how it can be prevented (see note 2).
“It is absolutely critical that everyone who has a role to play in reaching and educating women about cervical cancer prevention does everything possible to encourage them to get screened.
“This includes more targeted campaigns to different age groups within the programme as well as contacting hard to reach communities where uptake is lower. For example work needs to be done with BME women where our research has shown a lower understanding of the importance and relevance of cervical screening.
“If numbers of women being screened continue to fall, then sadly there is a very real risk that more women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. The impact of a diagnosis cannot be underestimated and for those that survive, many will go through invasive and painful treatments, suffering on-going side effects with a possibility of losing the ability to have children.
“We need to remind and reassure women that this is a simple five minute procedure, given once every three years that could quite literally save their life.”
For further information, comment or case studies please contact Maddy Durrant on 020 7936 7498 / 07772 290 064 or email [email protected]
Notes to editors
1.Figures taken from the Scottish Cervical Screening Programme Statistics 2011-12
2. In 2011 Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust commissioned three UK-wide cervical screening survey’s which looked at issues around GP and employer flexibility, awareness in women aged between 50 and 70, and differences in awareness between BME and white women. Survey’s carried out through You Gov Plc.
3. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (www.jostrust.org.uk) is the UK’s only dedicated charity offering support and information for those affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities. The National Helpline is on 0808 802 8000
4. Around 3 women in the UK die each day from cervical cancer, with someone diagnosed every 3 hours
5. Over 300,000 women a year are told they may have a cervical abnormality that could require treatment.
6. It is estimated that the UK Cervical Screening Programmes save 5,000 lives every year and if HPV vaccination take up continues to reach at least 80% it is believed this could result in a 2/3rds reduction in incidence in women under 30 by 2025.