Live updates

MP: NHS must not undermine young women

Labour MP Alison McGovern said the death of Sophie Jones, who died of cervical cancer aged 19 after she was refused a smear test because of her age, shows that a "culture change" is needed within the NHS.

Speaking during a debate on lowering the age of eligibility for cervical screening from 25, she said that the NHS "must listen to young women".

"There are lots of forces in society that are set up to undermine young women," she added. "Please let's not have the NHS be one of them."

MP: Women 'should have choice' over smear test age

A mother has prompted a debate in Parliament after losing her 19-year-old daughter Sophie Jones to cervical cancer in March, saying that her child couldn't have a test due to her age.

In the commons, Steve Rotherham MP stated that he wasn't calling for routine cervical screening for all women under 25, but for "guidance, that women should be able to request a smear regardless of their age".

ITV News' Medical Editor Lawrence McGinty reports:

More: Cervical cancer screening age to be debated in Parliament

Advertisement

Charity: 'Worrying' decline in women taking smear tests

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, a charity dedicated to those affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities, told ITV News that women who are invited to take smear tests are increasingly failing to make the appointments.

Unfortunately, we are now seeing a downward trend in numbers of eligible women across all age groups who are attending their screening so there needs to be a focus on encouraging women to take up their invitation.

Worryingly, one in five women do not attend cervical screening annually.

For young women aged 25-29 this statistic rises to one in three, while for older women aged 60-64 screening uptake is at a 16-year low and numbers diagnosed with the disease is rising.

– Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust

More: Do you know the symptoms of cervical cancer?

Petition to lower smear test age gains 322k signatures

Following 19-year-old Sophie Jones' death from cervical cancer, 322,000 people have supported a campaign to change the law on smear tests

MPs will today discuss lowering the age limit for cervical screening from 25 to 16 after the record-breaking petition drew 200,000 more signatures than is required to trigger a Parliamentary debate.

Sophie Jones, 19, died of cervical cancer in March.
Sophie Jones, 19, died of cervical cancer in March. Credit: ITV News Granada

The campaign was started by the family of the Merseyside teenager, who died in March after doctors refused her request for a smear test.

She had been suffering from pelvic pains, prolonged menstruation and loss of appetite, but was not screened because of her age.

Watch: Sophie Jones' sister: A test would have saved her life

Sister of cancer teen: 'A test would have saved her life'

The twin sister of a 19-year-old who died from cervical cancer despite repeated pleas to doctors for a smear test has said she believes her sibling would still be alive if she had been screened.

Ashleigh Jones told Good Morning Britain her sister Sophie would still be alive if doctors had given her a smear test after she complained of pelvic pains, prolonged menstruation and loss of appetite.

She said: "I think it would have saved her life. I think even if she had had it two months earlier, it could have saved her life."

Sophie's Mum Peri Cawley, Ashleigh and other sister Chelsea were speaking ahead of a debate in Parliament lower the age women are eligible for smear tests from 25, in the wake of Sophie's death.

Advertisement

Smear test age limit up for Parliament debate

The age at which young women can first be tested for cervical cancer will be up for debate in Parliament later today, MPs have said.

A campaign to lower the age was brought by a bereaved mother, who lost her 19-year-old daughter in March when doctors failed to correctly diagnose the cervical cancer she was suffering from.

Sophie Jones had complained of pains in the pelvic area, severe back pain and lower stomach pain back in January 2013, but was not diagnosed until November after numerous doctors had dismissed her pleas for a smear test, partly because she was under 25.

Read: Cervical cancer test fears

Smear test
The Government say smear tests on younger women are far more likely to come back with abnormal results that are not cancerous. Credit: PA

During the summer of 2013 Sophie stopped eating and was referred to a gastroenterologist as doctors suspected she had Crohn's disease.

She was then referred to a gynaecologist who admitted her that day and immediately referred her for a colposcopy which showed she had cancer.

The campaign to bring this debate to Parliament secured more support than any other in the government e-petition website's history - beating Stop the Badger Cull' and 'Convicted London Rioters should lose all benefits!'.

Read: Ministers blamed over rise in overdue smear tests

Cervical cancer survivor describes fear at diagnosis

A 35-year-old woman who was two years overdue for a smear test has told Daybreak of the difficulties she faced when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer,

Samantha Kemp, who was 32 at the time of diagnosis, said doctors discovered "quite severe abnormal cells" and sent her in for an MRI, which revealed a tumour small enough "that it meant I did not have to have a hysterectomy".

"That for me that was my scariest point, was having that situation of not knowing if I could have children anymore."

'Disingenuous' to blame overdue smears on GP access

It is misleading to suggest the rise in overdue smear tests is the result of a lack of GP access, the Government has said.

A Department of Health spokeswoman claimed there had been a sharp rise in the number of women screened for cervical cancer in the wake of Jade Goody's death in 2009, and now, fewer were choosing to get screened:

It is disingenuous to suggest that more women are unable to get a smear test because of GP access issues.

We know there was a significant rise in women wanting tests in 2009 following Jade Goody's death, and now fewer women choose to take up the invitation to have a smear.

The old 48-hour GP appointment target actually worsened access and under new plans, millions more people will get to see their family doctor at evenings and weekends.

– A Department of Health spokeswoman

Labour: Rise in missed smear tests 'extremely worrying'

The 11% rise in the number of women who have failed to have a smear test is "extremely worrying", Labour have said.

Shadow health minister Liz Kendall said:

Someone is diagnosed with cervical cancer every three hours in the UK, and it kills three women every single day.

Smear tests save thousands of lives every year, so this recent drop in uptake is extremely worrying.

It's vital to increase public awareness and make it easier for women to book their tests, including outside normal working hours, because it can be tough getting to your local surgery if you're working, commuting or have to pick your children up after school.

– Liz Kendall

Read: 'Govt failing to act' over rise in missed smear tests

Load more updates

Advertisement

Today's top stories