This week (January 17-23) is Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, raising awareness of cervical cancer and urging women to book a screening.
Nurses have stressed the importance of booking cervical screening appointments, with 22 per cent of women not attending when invited.
Cervical screening is a free health test that helps prevent cervical cancer. It checks for a virus called high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) and abnormal cell changes.
HPV is a very common virus and eight in 10 women will get it in their lifetime. It normally goes away on its own with no treatment required.
It is passed on mainly through sexual contact and can lay dormant in the body causing no problems for many years, which is why it is important to get regular screenings as it can appear at any time, even if you have had the same partner.
The screening programme is offered to all women between the ages of 25-64 and is performed every three or five years, or earlier if required due to abnormal results.
The screening process currently prevents 70 per cent of cervical cancer deaths, although if everyone who was eligible attended screening regularly, this could increase to 83 per cent.
Kelsey Mansell, sexual health nurse at Locala Sexual Health Clinic, said: “It is apparent that there are many barriers to cervical screening. I hope that one day the uptake of cervical screening will increase because it is so important to attend and could potentially save your life.
“According to the World Health Organisation, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in females and could be prevented if you go for your cervical screening.
“It takes 10 minutes and I promise you have nothing to be embarrassed about, it's what we do as a job.”
If you have any worries or would like any more information on cervical screening, visit jostrust.org.uk