That’s the message in a new NHS campaign after it emerged that a quarter of women aged 25-34 in Dumfries and Galloway didn’t go for their smear when invited in 2017-18. The age group is being targeted by the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland’s ‘Flower campaign’, with the message to “nip cervical cancer in the bud” by getting the test done. With six women being diagnosed with cervical cancer every week in Scotland, the aim is to get these younger women talking about cervical screening, to boost uptake and save lives.
Offering advice to anyone feeling nervous, nurse Deborah Cross, who works at Lochthorn Medical Centre in Dumfries, said: “I know a smear test might not be the most pleasant of things to do, but it can help stop cervical cancer before it starts. “I’m trained to make the smear test go smoothly and make women feel as comfortable as possible at the appointment. I’ve done hundreds of smear tests over the years, and would encourage any patient to talk to us or ask questions if they have concerns or worries, because that’s what we’re here for. Please don’t put off going for your smear test when invited, or contact your GP practice if you missed your last one.”
All women in Scotland aged 25 to 49 are offered a smear test every three years, while those aged 50 to 64 are invited every five years. The short test checks cells in the cervix and is designed to pick up any changes so they can be monitored or treated. Health experts say it saves around 5000 lives a year in the UK.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has added her voice to the campaign too and said: “Cervical screening saves lives. I know there are reasons why women put off going for their smear, such as fear or embarrassment, but it’s vital women are aware that the five minute test is the best way to protect themselves from cervical cancer.”
For further information on cervical screening, visit getcheckedearly.org/cervical-cancer