Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs until 28 January and Albion in the Community’s (AITC) health team is joining efforts to highlight the importance of women undergoing regular smear tests.
Every day in the UK an average of nine women are diagnosed with cervical cancer while around three women lose their lives as a result of the disease each day.
However, despite the fact that 75 per cent of cervical cancers are prevented by cervical screening, one in four women do not attend this potentially life-saving test.
And the latest figures for cervical screening coverage in England have worryingly revealed that the number of women attending their tests has fallen again. In Brighton, one in four women aren’t attending when called for a test – the lowest uptake in the south east.
That is why the people behind AITC’s Speak Up Against Cancer project are encouraging local women to make sure they do not miss their next smear test.
Speak Up Against Cancer volunteer Sharon Wilson is one of those highlighting the importance of keeping test appointments.
She lives and works in Brighton and always attended her three-yearly cervical screening (smear test) appointments.
When she was 35, she was surprised to be told then that she had severe changes on her cervix that could become cancerous in time. However, Sharon had the treatment and moved on with her busy life.
She had annual checks and in 2016, a smear test showed more changes to her cervix that required treatment. “Of course it was disappointing I needed more treatment,” she explained, “but I am really glad it was caught in time and has now been sorted out.”
Now she is helping AITC reinforce its cancer awareness message to other local people.
She said: “I was shocked at how many of my friends had missed their smear appointments.
“I strongly believe that we should take responsibility for our health and attend these tests. In between, if you notice any changes, get help quickly.
“I didn’t have any symptoms so if I hadn’t gone for my check, things could have been a lot worse.”
Speak Up Against Cancer is funded by NHS Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group and Brighton and Hove City Council Public Health.