Women urged to keep life-saving cervical screening appointments as take up across Leeds drops

Women in Leeds are being urged to keep smear test appointments as part of Cervical Screening Awareness Week as latest figures reveal that across the city take up has dropped.

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 4:45 pm

Cancer Wise Leeds a programme funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and delivered in partnership with Leeds Cancer Programme, is working with GP practices across the city to ensure women are not put off attending appointments due to the coronavirus pandemic.

During the past 12 months, participation in cervical screening has declined. Recent data shows that participation in screening across Leeds has dropped to 70.5 per cent which is a 2.9 per cent drop from February 2020.

The decrease in coverage means that approximately 6,500 fewer women in Leeds had a test between February 2020 and February 2021.

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Doctors are keen to reassure women who feel anxious about attending cervical screening appointments.
Doctors are keen to reassure women who feel anxious about attending cervical screening appointments.

A spokesperson for Cancer Wise Leeds said: “Cervical screening helps save lives by preventing cancer. Participation in this important service was already very low in some parts of Leeds before the pandemic, so we’re now extremely concerned about the impact the decline will have on the lives of women in the city.

“We want to reinforce the message that it is vitally important and very safe to attend appointments when invited. Although Covid-19 restrictions are now being eased, the protective measures introduced at GP practices earlier in the pandemic will remain in place.”

Cervical screening can prevent cervical cancer by spotting abnormal changes and treating them early. The test first checks for human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes almost all cervical cancers. If HPV is found, the sample is then checked for any cell changes. Not all cell changes develop into cervical cancer, but it is important to monitor and treat these changes if needed.

Women should take part in cervical screening even if they are not sexually active or have had the HPV vaccine. This also applies to trans men and non-binary people with a cervix.

Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer include: abnormal bleeding during sex, between periods or after the menopause, discomfort during sex, back pain, unusual cervical discharge