Council back cancer awareness scheme

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Council chiefs in St Helens are backing a campaign to raise awareness of cervical cancer.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust – the UK's only dedicated cervical cancer charity – has launced an awareness campaign aimed at increasing the uptake of cervical screening tests within the borough.

Beginning on April 4 and running through to May, the campaign will see advertising applied to buses serving main routes around St Helens.

St Helens Council’s new Interim Director of Public Health, Sue Forster, said: “I’m delighted that three in four women in St Helens already take up cervical screening, higher than the regional and national averages.

For the one in four who have not attended for a cervical screen, we’re hoping that this campaign will encourage them to give it a try.

“We know that many women feel uncomfortable about the tests, but being screened regularly means any problems can be found early and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing. Why not bring a friend with you if you are worried?”

Katie Smith, aged 30, from Newton-le-Willows, said: “I'd definitely encourage women to attend their screening appointment. I've been for mine a few times now, and it wasn't anything to worry about.

“The nurse has always made me feel comfortable, and it doesn't take long at all. I think it's really worth taking a few minutes out of your day to go, especially because it helps to pick up problems early and could even be life-saving.”

All women who are registered with a GP are invited periodically for cervical screening, every three years for those aged 25-49 and every five years for those aged 50-64.

For women 65 and over, invitations are issued only to those who haven’t been screened since age 50, or those who have recently had abnormal tests.

The uptake in St Helens at 75 per cent is higher than for England and the North West – both at 73 per cent.

Dr Paul Rose, GP and cancer lead for St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group

(CCG), said: “I would encourage all women to come for cervical screening.

“It is just as important for women who are over 50 as for younger women.”

Every day three women in the UK die from cervical cancer, with someone being diagnosed every three hours, facing an uncertain future.

Over 300,000 women a year are told they may have a cervical abnormality that could require treatment.

According to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, it is estimated that the UK Cervical Screening Programmes save 5,000 lives every year and if vaccination uptake for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) – the predominant cause of cervical cancer – continues to reach at least 80 per cent, it is believed this could result in a two-thirds reduction in incidence in women under 30 by 2025.