24/06/2015 08:21 BST | Updated 23/06/2016 06:59 BST

Why Are Women NOT Having Smear Tests?

Cancer prediction has become one of the most pressing issues in health care today, which is why delaying a smear test is not the smartest idea.

While screenings save the lives of nearly 4,500 women each year, one in three women under 35 refuses to have one, according to a recent study.

I left it until I was 27 to have my first. Like most of my friends, I'd been waiting for the dreaded envelope to come through my door - to urge me to go and get it done - but the letter never arrived.

I had changed post codes and doctor's surgeries twice, and foolishly never followed it up. Admittedly, a quick phone call is all it would have taken to book an appointment. It's not like I was scared or embarrassed - just very busy - but so were the cells on my cervix!

The smear test itself didn't take long and wasn't particularly uncomfortable. Instead of the cold metal pieces of equipment that were used up until recently, my doctor showed me the speculum - a disposable plastic tool used to carry out the test - and urged me to stay relaxed.

Friends had described a feeling of 'scraping' but I didn't feel that. Obviously you're aware when the doctor pops the speculum inside but the whole thing is over in a blink. A brush that looks like a scaled down egg-washing brush is gently wiggled around to collect a swab of cells and sent to a lab for testing.

Like one in 20 other women, my results showed abnormal cells. My GP explained this does not mean that the dreaded 'C' word, nor does it mean I am going to develop cancer in the future.

Instead, I had a colposcopy - a further examination of the cervix - where the doctor used a special microscope to determine whether I would need further treatment.

As luck had it, I did. Back in the chair, a month later, I had loop therapy treatment where the doctor removed the area containing abnormal cells from my cervix using a small tool and electric current. It wasn't pleasant but it didn't hurt and all I kept reminding myself was that child birth is going to be a whole lot worse.

I've been advised to take it easy for six weeks - no sex, cycling or heavy lifting. I'm taking full advantage of my short-term change in lifestyle and feel relieved I had such good care from the NHS.

What's mind-blowing is how I could easily be writing a very different story - if I didn't have the initial smear test! The abnormal cells would still be there, undetected, and could have eventually become cancerous, or in the worse case scenario - left me infertile.

Not worth thinking about, right? One quick visit every three years could potentially save your life. Get screened, regularly. Talk to your family and friends about it, and don't let cancer catch you out.

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