Mary in the News Guardian

It's Cervical Cancer Prevention Week when campaigners and professionals stress the need to take life-saving smear tests.

Jo's cervical cancer trust tells me that screening prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing. They are worried that attendance in England is now at a 21 year low - well over a million of the 4.5 million women invited last year didn't turn up.

And non-shows include one in three 25-29 year olds. It is a particular
problem for specific age groups, women with a learning disability, women living in areas of deprivation and women from minority ethnic

There are many reasons why screening uptake is declining. Some women are embarrassed, some are fearful, others have literacy and cultural barriers, while others find it difficult to get an appointment given the closure of sexual health services and struggling to get GP appointments.

As it happens, North Tyneside is better than the rest of the country when it comes to HPV vaccinations that are offered to those between 12–18 but cervical screening remains vital.

The enemy of prevention is complacency. One young woman told the trust that her mother skipped her screenings only to die when it was too late. The daughter learnt the bitter lesson and avoided the same fate which she says shows she is living proof that cervical screening saves lives

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