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Smear test: please go for yours

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cervix, cervical cancer, smear test, HPV, video, what happens, Cervical cancer currently claims two lives every day in the UK.

Almost half of women (44.2 per cent) questioned in a recent survey were unaware what a cervix is, and were unable to correctly identify it as the neck of the womb (uterus).

And one in six could not name a single function of the cervix.

Less than half (41.40 per cent) were aware that it connects the womb to the vagina, and only one in three knew that it provided a seal to hold the baby in during pregnancy.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, who run a Cervical Cancer Prevention Week – this year from 21-27 January – released these statistics at the start of 2018’s Cervical Screening Awareness Week, to encourage women to talk about and protect their cervical health.

The cervix has several important functions, including keeping the foetus inside the womb until birth, allowing menstrual blood to flow out from the vagina and dilating during birth to allow the baby to move from the womb to the vagina.

Through increasing awareness of the important role of the cervix, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust hopes to increase awareness of cervical cancer and most importantly how cervical cancer can be prevented through cervical screening.

Cervical cancer currently claims two lives every day in the UK.

It is the most common cancer in women under 35.

Cervical screening prevents up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers, yet the number of women going to their doctor or health clinic for smears is at a 19-year low in England, where only 72.7 per cent go and at a 10-year low in both Wales only 77.8 per cent go and Scotland only 75.6 per cent go.

However, these figures mask huge differences in ages and areas.

Figures including:

In London only 55.2 per cent of 25-29 year-olds have attended screening, dropping to 46.5 per cent in several boroughs.

Coverage in South Gloucestershire is the highest in the country, at 81.9 per cent.

The lowest is Kensington and Chelsea at just 55.5 per cent.

In Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool, Hammersmith and Fulham, Camden and Westminster only around 64 per cent of 60-64 year-olds have attended screening in the last five years.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde has the lowest screening uptakes in Scotland with only 71.1 per cent attending.

Hywel Dda University Health Board and Cardiff and Vale University Health Board have the lowest uptake in Wales, with only 76.3 per cent and 76.5 per cent attending respectively.

Cervical screening is a free health test that helps prevent cervical cancer. It checks for cell changes (abnormalities) on your cervix caused by the high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV). It is not a test for cancer.

We need to encourage women we know or meet to look after their health, including the health of their cervix, and that means attending cervical screening.

And we need to encourage women to talk to their friends, mothers and daughters about the steps they can take to reduce their risk of cervical cancer.

All women need regular health checks.

Book a smear test at your local health centre

Ask your doctor for information if you are unsure.

And you have every right to insist on a female medical practitioner.

And you also have every right to be frightened or nervous – and to tell the practitioner that you are.

To watch a short video about cervical screening and what happens when you go for a smear test click here.

If you would like to go for cervical screening but are recovering from sexual violence, maybe these tips will help.

Robert Music, Chief Executive of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: “We cannot afford to see cervical screening attendance fall any further.

“Diagnoses of cervical cancer in the UK are worryingly high and will only increase if more women don’t attend screening.”

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