Its cervical screening awareness week this week and Bay Health and Care Partners want to help raise awareness that cervical screening really does save lives.
Cervical cancer affects around 3,000 women in the UK every year and is the most common form of cancer for women under the age of 35.
Attending cervical screening is the best way to help prevent cervical cancer, however, attendance is at a 20-year low, with three in ten women in the Morecambe Bay area not attending their cervical screening.
Dr Sarah Arun, GP at Norwood Medical Centre in Barrow said: “Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, it is a test to help prevent cancer. We test for potentially harmful cells which can turn into cancer and if we find them, action is taken to prevent them from developing.
“We know that women can sometimes feel embarrassed about coming to their cervical screening but please don’t let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending. The nurses who carry out the cervical screenings see hundreds of women and will always do their best to make you feel welcome, comfortable and ensure your dignity is maintained. Your practice nurse is specifically trained to do this so please speak to them if you have any issues.”
The NHS offers a screening for all women, starting around their 25th birthday and up to the age of 49 every three years, and all women aged 50 to 64 every five years.
Patients will receive an invitation by letter from their GP practice when they are due for a cervical screening.
Cervical screening lasts for about five minutes, and you only have to go once every three or five years depending on your age.
Dr Arun added: “It’s five minutes that could save your life. Please don’t ignore your cervical screening invite.”
The NHS in the North West is urging women to contact their GP if they are over the age of 25 and have not been screened before, or if they think they may be overdue for an appointment.
For tips on how to make cervical screening more comfortable please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/