Cervical screening, based around 'The smear test' has been around since the 80's and is not aimed at diagnosing cancer, but at detecting abnormal cells that may turn into cancer in the future. These cells can then be removed, and the screening program has been shown to reduce cases of cervical cancer by 75% in this country. Not all abnormal cells need removing; the younger the woman and the milder the changes, and the more likely they are to spontaneously regress with time. The reason for this is due to the natural history of the human papilloma virus (HPV), which we know to be the causative agent of cervical cancer.
When did smear tests become something optional? Something we'd try and squeeze in if we had time? Or do more women need to die from cervical cancer before we get the message? It beggars belief that smear tests - which can help spotlight at-risk women and help prevent cervical cancer - are seen as something that isn't absolutely necessary.
The research, commissioned by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, shows a third of those aged between 25 and 29 don't take up their 'invitations'. And the older group (60-64) waits an average of three years to get checked. Yet the procedure can prevent around 75 percent of cervical cancer cases by detecting abnormal pre-cancer cells, according to the NHS.