The Government has launched its first cervical screening campaign in the hope of reversing a 20-year low in women going for smear tests.
Loose Women star Christine Lampard is backing the campaign and said she will encourage her daughter, Patricia, to go for screening when she is older.
Two women every day in England die from cervical cancer and more than 200,000 women every year are diagnosed with abnormal cell changes that could lead to the disease.
However, official figures show that the proportion of women aged 25 to 64 who go for smear tests is currently at a 20-year low.
Figures published by NHS Digital show that, as of the end of March last year, the percentage of eligible women screened adequately was just 71.4%.
Now, Public Health England (PHE) has launched the first government campaign on the issue, with adverts running in national media, social media and video on demand.
Surveys show that young women in particular are putting off their smear tests because they are embarrassed and do not know what to expect.
But experts predict that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.
Mrs Lampard said: “I can’t say I’m thrilled when my cervical screening invite is posted through my door but I know how important it is that I get tested.
“It’s an awkward five minutes that could save your life.
“As a mother I will never ignore my screening invitation and when my daughter, Patsy, is old enough, I‘ll encourage her to attend her screenings too.
“As women we should talk positively about our bodies and the importance of cervical screening – it’s an important way to protect our health.”
Professor Anne Mackie, director of screening programmes at PHE, said: “The decline in numbers getting screened for cervical cancer is a major concern as it means millions of women are missing out on a potentially life-saving test.
“We want to see a future generation free of cervical cancer but we will only achieve our vision if women take up their screening invitations.
“This is a simple test which takes just five minutes and could save your life. It’s just not worth ignoring.”
TV medic Dr Dawn Harper added: “Cervical screening is one of the most important things women can do to protect themselves from the risk of cervical cancer.
“Screening can stop cancer before it starts and saves thousands of lives every year.
“Some women are nervous or embarrassed about the test and put off having it done.
“While it’s not the most enjoyable experience, most women say it wasn’t as bad as expected and were glad they did it.
“The tests are usually done at your GP surgery by female nurses who are trained to make women feel more comfortable and talk them through the process.
“I cannot stress how important it is not to ignore your screening letter – it’s a five-minute test that could be life-saving.”
The campaign is also being supported by charities including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.