WOMEN are putting their lives at risk by not attending appointments for a smear test, health chiefs have claimed.
Figures shown that 20% of women do not attend their cervical screen – a test to detect pre-cancerous cells.
Cervical cancer is a preventable disease but about 750 women in England die of it each year, often because they missed their smear test.
As part of Cervical Screening Awareness Week (June 9 – 15) Kirklees Council’s public health team is working to encourage women to go for their smear tests when they receive a letter inviting them to attend an appointment.
A powerful advertising campaign took place earlier this year and the team is again reminding women of the importance of cervical screening in the fight against cancer.
Earlier this year the council supported a regional awareness campaign with posters around Kirklees and on buses, in shopping centres, and at local children’s centres.
The posters featured a small boy sitting on the stairs crying and saying: “My mum missed her smear test, now I miss my mum.”
Comments from local women have highlighted how powerful the advert is and that it did actually spur them on to make an appointment for a smear test.
A young local mum, 25, says that the campaign poster made her go to her smear test.
She said: “It definitely did the job – the picture of the little boy crying because he had lost his mum frightened the life out of me.
“It made me think that could be my little girl.
“I hadn’t had any symptoms, but I had ignored all of my invitation letters as I thought I’d be fine and it (cervical cancer) wouldn’t happen to me.
“Also I didn’t really want anyone to see me ‘down there’.
“It was a bit uncomfortable but it was over in a few seconds, so it was fine. It’s actually not that bad.
“My results arrived within a week-and-a-half of the test, and it was all fine. I’m so glad I’ve done it and I’ll definitely go for my smear tests in the future, I won’t put them off.
“I will encourage my friends to go too as it is a life-saver.”
Dr Mercy Vergis, cervical screening lead for Kirklees, said: “It is vitally important that you attend an appointment when you receive one.
“Women can sometimes be put off attending a test because they may feel uncomfortable, or they may be worried about the outcome of the test.
“However, it really is the best way to prevent cancer before it develops.”
Women aged 25 to 49 are invited for a smear test every three years; those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years.
For more information contact your GP or the practice nurse at your surgery or go to your nearest Contraception and Sexual Health clinic (CaSH).