Cervical screening: Third of Nottingham women miss tests

More than a third of women aged 25 to 29 fail to go for cervical screening in Nottingham, figures suggest.

In 2010-11, the take-up rate for this age group was 64% in Nottingham, compared to a national target of 80%.

NHS Nottingham City is highlighting the figures as part of Cervical Screening Awareness Week.

It comes after Nottinghamshire MP Mark Spencer called on the government to help younger woman be screened, so that cancer can be prevented.

Conservative Mr Spencer, who represents Sherwood, wrote to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley highlighting "the refusal of some GPs to perform smear tests on women below the age of 25".

Hysterectomy in 20s

He wrote: "I was recently contacted by a constituent, whose best friend was told by her GP that she could not have a smear test because she was only 22.

"She had to go to a private clinic for the test and has since been diagnosed with cervical cancer, has undergone a hysterectomy and is enduring a course of intense chemotherapy and radiotherapy."

Mr Spencer joined representatives from the Mercedes Curnow Foundation to hand in a petition of more than 120,000 signatures to Downing Street.

The petition called on the government to consider dropping the qualifying age for cervical smear tests from 25 to 20.

In England all women aged 25 to 49 are invited to a screening every three years, and women aged 50 64 are invited every five years.

'Element of fear'

The lower limit of the screening age was raised from 20 in 2003.

In 2010, 45 women aged between 20 and 24 were diagnosed with cervical cancer in England, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer.

Instead, it detects abnormalities which, if left untreated, could lead to cancer in a woman's cervix.

Alison Challenger, consultant in public health for NHS Nottingham City, said: "We fully appreciate that for some women there may be an element of fear preventing them from attending a screening and would strongly advise they talk to their GP or practice nurse about any concerns.

"Taking a sample is quite simple, and should only take a matter of minutes, and women can request a female nurse or GP if preferred."

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