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NHS urges more women to take up cervical screening invitations

Millions of women are being urged to come forward for cervical screening as figures show a third of eligible under 50s didn’t take up the potentially lifesaving offer.

The latest figures show that as of December last year, 65.8% of the 11 million eligible women aged 25-49 took up their cervical screening invitation and were screened within the recommended time, while the proportion was 74.1% among women aged 50-64.

This Cervical Screening Awareness Week, the NHS is reminding women to come forward for these vitally important tests.

NHS cervical screening helps to prevent cervical cancer by using a highly effective test to check for high-risk HPV, which causes 99% of cervical cancers. HPV can cause abnormal cells to develop in the cervix and if left untreated, these cells can turn into cervical cancer over time. That is why it’s important to come forward for screening when invited.

Women are invited for screening by the NHS every three to five years depending on their age, or more frequently if HPV is detected.

In 2022-23, everyone in England who was due a test – 4.62 million individuals aged 25 to 64 – was invited to book an appointment, and 3.43 million attended screening during the year.

Steve Russell, Chief Delivery Officer and National Director for Vaccinations and Screening for NHS England, recently said:

“We have set an ambitious target of eliminating cervical cancer within the next two decades – one of the few countries in the world who have committed to this – and we are doing everything we can to achieve our ambition by making it as easy as possible to make appointments, and continuing to send invites and reminders to all eligible women.

“But in order to make this a reality we need to see more women coming forward for their cervical screening appointments when invited – even if you previously missed your appointment, don’t wait around for another invitation before contacting your GP practice – you can still book in now and this could save your life.”

Last year the NHS pledged to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040 by making it as easy as possible for people to get the lifesaving HPV vaccination and increasing cervical screening uptake.

The HPV vaccine protects against cervical cancer and a range of mouth and throat cancers and is given to both girls and boys in secondary school to protect them against catching the HPV infection and developing into pre-cancerous and cancer cells.

It is still important to attend cervical screening appointments if you have been vaccinated against HPV as the vaccine does not provide protection from all types of HPV, so there is a still a small chance of getting cervical cancer.

The NHS continues work to ensure that all women have access to vaccination and cervical screening appointments, and that they are suitably informed on how to book and what to expect at an appointment.

Invitations are sent in the post when it’s time to book a cervical screening appointment, while women can also contact their GP surgery to book. Some sexual health clinics also offer the service. Anyone who has previously received an invitation and been unable to attend shouldn’t wait for another invitation – you can still book a cervical screening appointment even if invited weeks, months or years ago.

More information on NHS cervical screening and how to book an appointment is available at www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening.

 

Channel website: https://www.england.nhs.uk/

Original article link: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2024/06/nhs-urges-more-women-to-take-up-cervical-screening-invitations/

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