The family of a 23-year-old who died of cervical cancer have hit out at the age restrictions on smear tests, reports the Daily Mail.
Mercedes Curnow first went to her doctor aged 20, as she showed signs of cervical cancer. Her mum, Sandra Cousins says she was ignored and not given a smear test as she was under 25.
After a year of visits to the doctors, Mercedes was taken to A&E and diagnosed with cervical cancer in April 2010. After 33 radiotherapy sessions and nine months of chemotherapy, she died at home on December 14 last year.
"Had Mercedes had a smear test when she started to present symptoms, she would be alive today," says Sandra. "It is an aggressive cancer and it races through the body. The sooner they catch this disease the better."
All women over 20 were given smear tests until 2003, when the Government changed legislation to only give regular tests to those over 25.
"When I look back now I don't know how we got through any of it," says Sandra.
To watch your own daughter crawl across the room and across her bed is totally soul destroying. But it's what happens to all those girls, not just Mercedes. They are like a silent group. It feels like that.
"Mercedes said nobody was interested in cervical cancer because there are bigger cancers, despite what Jade Goody did."
Sandra is now campaigning on Facebook to get women under 25 to seek medical attention at the earliest possible signs of cervical cancer, which include bleeding between periods, pain during sex and pain when weeing.
More than 1,000 people have joined the Mercedes Curnow Foundation for the Detection of Cervical Cancer on Facebook.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: "Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, but tests for abnormalities that could in future develop into cancer. In the vast majority of younger women, the abnormalities clear up on their own and are not a good indication of future cancer.
"Cervical cancer and mortality from it are very rare in women under 25. Since the starting age was raised in England in 2003 there has been no increase in mortality in women aged 20 to 24 or 25 to 30 years old."
What a tragedy.