1. ITV Report

1 in 4 women in Cumbria and the South of Scotland miss cervical screening

The age group least likely to attend a screening is 25 to 29-year-olds Photo: ITV Border

One in four women in Cumbria and the South of Scotland missed a cervical screening appointment last year.

The new figures come from Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust.

It is concerned that more women will be faced with diagnosis and loss of life if attendance doesn't increase.

The age group least likely to attend a screening is revealed to be 25 to 29-year-olds.

At the same time as tests were being missed, deaths from cervical cancer in Scotland rose by almost a third.

Missing the chance to get tested for cervical cancer reduces the chance of an earlier diagnosis.

One woman from Dumfries says she owes her life to a smear test, and is urging others to attend.

Christine Potts had abnormal cells detected on her first ever smear test, and she says that five minute test saved her life:

Speak to someone. Phone your GP, speak to the nurse. Ask questions, find out what it's like. There is a lot of scaremongering, that it's painful and you know this horrible thing, but it's not, it really isn't. And to me it's just, the importance is just it outweighs everything."

– Christine Potts

Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust said:

It is worrying that so many women are still not attending cervical screening when invited. There are many barriers to women attending screening including psychological, cultural, social and physical.

From talking to women who come to us for support and information we know that many find screening difficult to access, especially for those who work.

When it comes to cervical screening and improving attendance, one size really does not fit all and we must prioritise understanding and tackling the barriers faced by different groups of women.

We must ensure the system is accessible, customer focused and adopts to the modern world and changing behaviours, and increase accessibility to the programme though initiatives such as self-sampling and women being able to attend screening at surgeries other than the one they are registered with.

If we do not start to immediately reverse declining coverage then tragically we are going to see more deaths that could have been prevented."

– Robert Music, Chief Executive, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust

How to book your cervical screening

You are able to book your cervical screening appointment with the GP surgery that you are registered with, as you will receive you invitation letter from them.

If you don’t want to have the test done at your GP surgery, in some areas of the UK you can go to a sexual health clinic instead.

All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening:

  • aged 25 to 49 – every three years
  • aged 50 to 64 – every five years
  • over 65 – only women who haven't been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests