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Quarter of women in England missing out on potentially life-saving cervical cancer checks

One in four women eligible for screening did not receive checks last year, new data shows.

One in four women eligible for cervical cancer screening in England did not receive potentially life-saving checks last year, new data shows.


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More than a quarter (27.3%) of the 4.21 million women invited for cervical screening in 2015-16 did not have the check-up, according to figures from NHS Digital.

According to the charity Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, the screening coverage is at a 19-year low.

Bleak reading

Charity chief executive Robert Music said: ‘The new data makes for bleak reading because we are seeing screening coverage go down year on year. We are also seeing the number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer rise. 

‘It is essential that the government, commissioners and public health leads invest in ensuring every woman understands the role of screening in preventing cervical cancer, as well as the potential health implications of not attending.’

The data shows coverage is lowest among women aged 25-49, a group in which 29.8% did not receive screening.

Strong message

One young woman, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 26 and had to undergo life-saving surgery, urged other women to take up their screening checks.

She said: ‘I was probably about a year late in taking up my invitation. I let things get in the way, such as my job and moving house.

‘It is so easy to put off screening. People think cancer is one of those things that happen to other people, and don’t think that they could be at risk.

‘I’ve been incredibly lucky. If I had put mine off any longer, I may have lost my life.

‘I would urge every young woman to attend for the test as soon as they get that letter. It could save their life.’

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