'It saved my life and it'll save yours' - Oxfordshire cancer patient urges people to book smear test

  • ITV News Meridian's Kara Digby spoke to Claire Cooper about her experience.

A woman from Oxfordshire is urging people to book their cervical screening if they are invited to one - revealing the test saved her life.

Claire Cooper from Abingdon has admitted when she received a letter in November 2022 to attend a cervical screening, she put it off for months.

When she eventually went in April this year, the human papillomavirus, or HPV was detected, and so were high-grade abnormal cells.

A biopsy was then taken to test those cells and it was confirmed that they were in the early stages of cervical cancer.

Ms Cooper said: "It could've got bigger and spread and then I could've had to have treatment had I not had treatment now - because it was so small and they got rid of it in that procedure I had done.

"I just want to tell every woman out there to go and have your smear when you're invited to because it saved my life and it'll save your life."

"The doctor said, 'I'm really sorry but you've got cervical cancer' which I was really shocked at the time about.

"Hearing the c-word was really hard and I just wasn't really taking it in. But the good thing is that they caught it early - they caught it early stages."

Figures show that around a third of eligible people in the South East and Thames Valley are not up to date with their cervical screening. Credit: ITV Meridian

After a procedure to remove the abnormal cells Ms Cooper is now cancer-free.

Cancer charities say people tend to put off cervical screenings for reasons including feeling embarrassed, concerns about pain, or not finding a convenient time.

All women and people with a cervix between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited to go for regular cervical screenings.

Describing what happens at a smear test screening, practice nurse Wendy Percival said: "We just position you on the bed quite comfortably and then it's just a little examination.

"We use a little plastic thing called the speculum - we insert that in and open it and that's slightly uncomfortable but not painful.

"We take a little brush and we move it around your cervix to get the cells."

People are allowed to bring a chaperone to hold their hand if they feel they need someone there.

For more information on cervical cancer symptoms, screenings and treatments:

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