NHS calling on eligible people to book cervical screening appointments

Dr Neil Smith, GP and cancer director for Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB <i>(Image: Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB)</i>
Dr Neil Smith, GP and cancer director for Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB (Image: Lancashire and South Cumbria ICB)

The NHS is calling on those who are eligible to book their cervical screening appointments when invited to do so.

The call comes as cervical cancer charity Jo’s Trust launches its annual Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (January 23-29) to raise awareness of cervical cancer and to drive uptake in the NHS Cervical Screening Programme.

Around 2,700 people are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year and approximately 690 die from the disease – around two deaths every day.

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme helps save thousands of lives per year and those who are invited are being encourage to ensure they attend a screening.

Dr Neil Smith, GP and cancer director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Intregrated Care Board, said: “Cervical screening is not a test for cancer, it is a test to help prevent cancer.

"It saves lives by finding early abnormalities that can be treated even before cancer begins.

“Some people may feel worried or embarrassed about the screening itself, but your clinician at your GP practice or sexual health service will help you feel at ease and treat you with dignity when carrying out this important check.

“It may feel a little uncomfortable but only takes a few minutes and could save your life. Anyone with concerns or questions should contact their GP practice.”

In 2021/22, the NHS sent out more screening invitations than ever before – more than five million – and 3.5 million people came forward for testing.

Screening help prevent cervical cancer by using a highly effective test to check for high-risk Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is found in over 99 per cent of all cervical cancers and which may cause abnormal cells to develop in the cervix.

READ MORE: HPV vaccine uptake falls in Blackburn with Darwen

Having HPV does not mean someone has or will develop cancer – it is a common virus that most people have at some point in their live without knowing about it, and it usually goes away on its own.

The NHS also offered the HPV vaccination to all children aged 12 and 13 at school in Year 8, up until school leaving age.

Cervical screening is available by appointment at local GP practices and at some local sexual health services.

Dr Kiren Collison, GP and interim medical director for primary care at NHS England, said: “If you have received an invitation for cervical screening, or missed your last screening, please don’t wait to make an appointment.

"I know life is busy, but screening really does save lives – please put your health at the top of your to-do list and book that appointment with your GP practice or sexual health clinic today. It might just save your life.

“Through cervical screening and treating cell changes, as well as the HPV vaccination, we hope to prevent cervical cancer from ever developing and ultimately eradicate it altogether in the future.”