Chloe Delevingne, co-founder of the Gynaecological Cancer Fund and sister to models Cara and Poppy Delevingne, had a smear test live on TV this morning to dispel any fears and uncertainty around cervical screening.
“It’s not painful,” she said as a GP inserted a speculum into her vagina. “It’s weird – it’s a bit of an odd feeling.”
Her appearance on ‘Victoria Derbyshire’ comes after figures showed the number of women attending smear tests has dropped to the lowest it’s been for two decades.
The live smear test was done by London-based GP Dr Philippa Kaye, who said “information is power” and hoped it would empower women who feel nervous or embarrassed to go for their smear.
At the age of 21, Chloe started to have irregular bleeding and abdominal pains. She recognised these as being possible symptoms of cervical cancer, went to a GP and requested a smear test.
“It showed that I had precancerous cells and I had to have a LLETZ procedure (large loop excision of the transformation zone) to remove the bad cells,” she previously told The Telegraph.
Around 1 in 20 women will have abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix. Most of these changes won’t lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own, however in some cases the abnormal cells need to be removed so they can’t become cancerous.
Around 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.
Chloe isn’t the only one passionate about raising awareness of gynaecological cancers and the importance of screening.
Just this week, Prime Minister Theresa May shared her own experience of smear tests in a bid to encourage more women to take up screening.
Speaking during PMQs on Wednesday 23 January, she said: “It is not comfortable. Sometimes, for some, it will be embarrassing, sometimes it’s painful, but those few minutes can save lives, so I would encourage all women to take up their smear tests.”
[Read More: Theresa May Wants To Tell You About Her Smear Test]
May’s rally came after Conservative MP Rachel Maclean urged the prime minister to encourage women to attend appointments. Maclean said 10 years ago, her own smear test flagged abnormalities, which could have developed into cervical cancer if left untreated.
Earlier this week, research by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust revealed among women who delay or don’t go for cervical screening, nervousness is the key factor holding them back.
The majority report feeling scared (71%) and vulnerable (75%) at the thought of going. Embarrassment also remains high (81%), while a worrying two thirds (67%) say they would not feel in control at the prospect of a test.
Worried about taking the plunge? Read our no-holds-barred guide to having your first smear test.