Women in Leeds are encouraged to go for their smear tests, which could save 5,000 lives a year

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Women in Leeds are being reminded of the importance of their cervical screening test following the launch of a national campaign by Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England.

NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is highlighting the importance of the cervical screening test, also know as the smear test, and how it can help detect cancer sooner.

Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under the age of 35, with nine women diagnosed with the cancer every day.

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It is, however, a cancer that is preventable, and one of the best ways to do this is through the cervical screening test.

Cervical screening: all your questions answered  and why its important to get testedCervical screening: all your questions answered  and why its important to get tested
Cervical screening: all your questions answered and why its important to get tested

However, screening in England is at a 20 year low according to figures published by NHS Digital in March 2018. Leeds has seen a drop of one percentage point for women aged 25 to 49 to 71.4 per cent and a fall of 0.8 percentage points to 77.5 per cent for women aged 50 to 64 between 2017 and 2018.

The national campaign aims to tackle misconceptions about the cervical screening process. It encourages women to attend their smear tests when invited by their local health service, such as GP practices, and shows the risks associated with missing the test.

Doctor Sarah Forbes, Associate Medical Director at NHS Leeds CCG, said: “Unfortunately the number of women attending for cervical screening has dropped off in recent years. Cervical cancer can be treated if caught at an early stage by cervical screening.

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“Catching it at a pre-cancerous stage requires women to go along to the GP practice to have a simple test when called. Results will be posted back in two to three weeks.

“Cancer care in Leeds is currently undergoing significant transformation and investment through the Leeds Cancer Programme. The Prevention, Screening and Awareness work stream aims to significantly reduce the number of preventable cancers such as cervical cancer.

“Leeds Cancer Programme is a partnership between the NHS in Leeds, Macmillan and Leeds City Council and has so far brought £4.5m of additional funding to cancer services in the city.”

The NHS Cervical Screening Programme has made a significant impact on the cervical cancer mortality since it was established in 1988, saving an estimated 5,000 lives a year.

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It is estimated that if all eligible women attended screening regularly 83 per cent of cancer deaths could be prevented. The NHS cervical screening programme is available to women aged 25 to 64 in England.

Visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-cancer.