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Welsh cervical screening results show slight increase in uptake but 1 in 4 still missing out on life saving test

Wed, 12/09/2012 - 01:00

Whilst latest figures from Cervical Screening Wales shows a slight increase in the number of women attending for smear tests in the region, almost 1 in 4 women are still failing to take up this life saving test (1).

Wales saw an overall increase of 0.1% to reach an uptake of 76.5% from April 2010 to March 2011 with 230,800 women following a formal invitation from the screening programme. The report also shows a 0.8% increase in screening women under 30.

The report shows the lowest uptake in Cardiff and Vale at 73.7% with the highest in Powys at 80.2%.

Robert Music, Director of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the UK’s only charity dedicated to supporting women with cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities, comments: “It’s great to see screening uptake in Wales is moving in the right direction. However the report shows that one in four women are still not attending a screening appointment.

“Cervical cancer is largely preventable and with cervical screening playing a key role in this, we implore women of all ages who have missed or delayed a test to get screened. This simple five minute procedure could save their life.”

Bryan Rose, Head of Cervical Screening Wales, said: “We are really pleased to see a small increase in the number of women being screened across Wales. About 1,000 women die from cervical cancer in the UK each year but we know that screening saves more than 5,000 lives a year.

“It is important to note that regular smear tests are the most effective way of detecting pre-cancerous cells in the cervix, so women should attend for screening every three years when invited, even if they have had a normal result in the past.”

Research commissioned by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust (2) 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 three surveys that were commissioned by the charity, there was a poor understanding of cervical cancer, its causes and how it can be prevented.

Robert Music continues: “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.

“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]

Ends 

  1. Statistics from Cervical Screening Wales 2011/12 report
  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 PlcIn 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

Further statistics:

  • Regional screening results as follows; Abertawe Bro Morg UHB 76.4%; Aneurin Bevan HB 78.9%; Betsi Cadwaladr UHB 76.8%, Cardiff and Vale UHB 73.7%; Cwm Taf HB 77.3%, Hywel Dda HB74.3%; Powys THB 80.2% THB.
  • At 31 March 2012, coverage for 25-64 year olds was 79.7%.
  • 230,800 (76.5%) 20-64 year old women were screened in 2011/12 compared with 213,100 (76.4%) the previous year; the majority in response to a formal invitation from the screening programme
  • 9,100 new patients were seen at colposcopy clinics in 2011/12, 77% having been directly referred by Cervical Screening Wales

Notes to editors

  1. 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
  2. Around 3 women in the UK die each day from cervical cancer, with someone diagnosed every 3 hours
  3. Over 300,000 women a year are told they may have a cervical abnormality that could require treatment.
  4. 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.