The test that saves lives...
Yet more and more women across Kirklees are failing to book a cervical screening when invited by their GP.
From the age of 25, women are invited for a cervical screening or ‘smear test’ every three years, extended to five years from the age of 50 to 64.
The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine is also offered for girls in year eight, anticipated to protect against 70 per cent of all cervical cancers.
But NHS Kirklees have reported a decline in the take up of screening in women aged 25 to 34 years old – with the decline particularly sharp in those aged 25-29.
The Eve Appeal, which raises awareness of gynaecological cancers, has reported that in 2011/2012, almost one in three women in the UK aged 25-29 ignored their screening invitation.
These figures show a stark contrast to just a few years ago when the NHS saw a surge of women, particularly young women, asking for smear tests as a result of the ‘Goody effect’.
When reality television star Jade Goody was revealed to have terminal cervical cancer in February 2009, the number of women booking screening appointments increased for the first time in 10 years.
The publicity surrounding the former Big Brother contestant even spurred government health ministers to announce a review of the age in which screening begins.
Cervical Cancer Awareness Week, held across Europe from January 20 to 26, aims to encourage more women to book a screening appointment and boost the numbers once more.
The disease is rare in women under 25 but is the second most common cancer in women under 35.
Almost five million women receive invitations for smear tests every year, with more than 90 per cent receiving a normal result.
However cervical screening can detect abnormal cells that develop before cancer, which can be easily treated once discovered.
By taking a smear test when invited by their GP, women can give themselves the best chance of detecting pre-cancerous cells.
Liz Henley, screening lead for NHS Yorkshire and the Humber, said it was vital women make, and keep, cervical screening appointments.
She said: “This simple test really can be a life-saver.
“The test can detect any abnormalities or changes in the cervix which, if left untreated, could lead to cervical cancer.
“Screening is the most effective way of preventing this cancer from developing - it only takes a few minutes but could save your life.”