Record FIVE MILLION British women are late for life-saving smear tests



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Screening for cervical cancer in Britain has dropped to a lower level, with nearly five million women in late testing.

Nearly one-third of women ignored their latest call for an appointment, putting them at risk after years without a smear test, official statistics show.

Participation in the cervical screening program in England is the lowest since records began 23 years ago.

Activists want GPs to offer more morning and evening exams to make it easier for busy women to test.

Screening for cervical cancer in Britain has dropped to a lower level, with nearly five million women in late testing. Photograph

Screening for cervical cancer in Britain has dropped to a lower level, with nearly five million women in late testing. Photograph

Screening for cervical cancer in Britain has dropped to a lower level, with nearly five million women in late testing. Photograph

Only three out of five women in their twenties attend consultations, in part because of the growing question of "body shame" and embarrassment in the intimate examination.

The NHS cervical screening program invites women ages 25 to 49 for testing every three years, or every five years for those aged 50-64 years.

But across the UK, 4.95 million women eligible for the 17.6 million program are in arrears because they have not been tested, NHS Digital show numbers.

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "Today's statistics are highly frustrating and, coupled with increased diagnoses of cervical cancer, are a huge concern.

How Cancer Screening Saved My Life

Laura Flaherty was examined and diagnosed with early cervical cancer

Laura Flaherty was examined and diagnosed with early cervical cancer

Laura Flaherty was examined and diagnosed with early cervical cancer

Laura Flaherty was dying, but she did not know that.

By 2015, she was examined and diagnosed with early-stage cervical cancer.

The manager of Leigh's store in Greater Manchester had delayed for over two months because she was ashamed.

Flaherty, 32, a mother of two, said: "If I had not gone, someone would have to tell my children that I died because I was ashamed to be tested.

"Nobody wants to show their private parts to a stranger. But it can save your life.

I had zero symptoms, so without it it would have been too late for me when it was found. I've been without cancer for two years now.

However, it has not been easy. My treatment, a hysterectomy, means that my fertility has been taken from me, which is extremely difficult.

In an appeal to others, she said: "Smear tests are so important. Please accept your invitation.

"At the moment we should facilitate the participation of exams, it is getting more and more difficult to access. Many struggle to get screening appointments at their GP, access through sexual health is declining and there is limited provision for those who need extra support. "

He said the program was effective but knocked over by a "ready to collapse" IT system, and Britain was being left behind by countries such as Australia where elimination of cervical cancer was " on the horizon ".

Mr. Music added, "We can not sit back and let the coverage of the cervical screening continue to plummet or the diagnosis of this often preventable cancer will increase."

About 3,200 British women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and 1,000 die from the disease annually.

However, cervical cancer rates are predicted to increase by almost 40% in 20 years.

Experts say another 2,000 women would be killed by the disease each year without the program.

The screening looks for pre-cancerous cells that can be treated before they develop into tumors that can spread throughout the body. This involves taking a sample of cells from the cervix to look for abnormalities.

By 2017/18, 74% of women in England aged 25-64 had been tested in five years – the lowest since records began in 1995, when 82% had been tested.

It is believed that the screening program has reduced cervical cancer rates by 44% since the 1970s. The death of reality show star Jade Goody, with cancer in 2009, triggered a spike in women who participated in the screening. But that effect has since faltered.

The new data suggest that younger women in particular are not being tested, with only 61 percent between 25 and 29 years in England. Mr. Music said: "Participation among young women is worryingly low.

"Embarrassment is a big factor for many women, and our research found that more than a third of young women were late because of it. There are a number of other reasons, including physical barriers, fear, low perception of risk or not understanding what the test is for.

Membership is also very low for people over 60, with 69% last year, down from 70% a year earlier.

Experts think that this is because women assume that the risk is over sixty.

Women are invited to screen for cervical cancer 12 times throughout their lives. But they may only need seven tests once a new test to check the HPV virus – a leading cause of cervical cancer – is in place by the end of next year.

The numbers come after the NHS was shaken this month by the news that 43,000 letters inviting women to a defamation test or giving them a reminder were not sent between January and June, and an additional 4,500 letters on screening results were not sent .

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