Women in South London are being urged to accept NHS cervical screening invites after new national figures show three in 10 of those eligible do not take up the potentially life-saving offer.
The NHS invites women for screening every three to five years depending on their age or more frequently if the high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is detected, with the programme saving thousands of lives annually.
The NHS Cervical Screening Programme, England 2022-2023 annual report, published by NHS England last month found that 68.7 per cent of 25 to 64 year-olds had attended screening within the recommended period of time, compared to 69.9 per cent the previous year.
Elaine Clancy, NHS South-west London’s chief nursing officer, said screening helps prevent cervical cancer by using a highly effective test to check for HPV, which is found in over 99 per cent of all cervical cancers and which may cause abnormal cells to develop in the cervix. These abnormal cells can, over time, turn into cancer if left untreated.
She stressed that it is also important to attend cervical screening appointments if you have been vaccinated against HPV as the vaccine does not provide protection from all types of HPV, so there is a still a small chance of getting cervical cancer.
She said: “I urge all those who can attend to go and get tested. Getting the HPV vaccination and attending screening is the best way of preventing cervical cancer, which is why it’s important that you book an appointment when invited.
“I’d also encourage anyone who has previously received an invitation and may have been unable to attend at the time, not to wait until you get another invitation before contacting your GP practice. You can still book a cervical screening appointment even if you were invited weeks, months or years ago.”
People can contact their GP practice to arrange a cervical screening appointment, and some sexual health clinics also offer cervical screening.
More information on NHS cervical screening and how to book an appointment is available at www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening.
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