Women putting health at risk

YOUNG women in Suffolk are today putting themselves at risk of cervical cancer by failing to turn up for potentially life-saving smear tests.New figures reveal that only 70 per cent of women aged 25 to 29 in Suffolk are taking up cervical screening, compared to 80pc three years ago.

YOUNG women in Suffolk are today putting themselves at risk of cervical cancer by failing to turn up for potentially life-saving smear tests.

New figures reveal that only 70 per cent of women aged 25 to 29 in Suffolk are taking up cervical screening, compared to 80pc three years ago.

Nearly 3,000 women in England and Wales are diagnosed with cancer of the neck of the womb each year, and around 1,000 die from the disease.

Claire Robinson, head of screening services for Suffolk primary care trust (PCT), said: “Uptake in Suffolk remains above the national average, but there are fewer women attending than in previous years.

“We have considered a number of reasons for this, which largely centre around women not really understanding the importance and benefits of attending for regular screening.

“Information leaflets are available on the programme in 19 languages.”

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The figures being compared in Suffolk are from 2002/3 to 2005/6.

There is a similar pattern across the country with experts voicing concerns after a massive drop in attendance for smear tests, particularly among 25 to 29 year olds.

Figures from the Department of Health show two-thirds of young women are taking up regular invitations compared to four-fifths ten years ago.

Smear tests are offered to women aged between 25 and 49 every three years, and to those aged between 50 and 64 every five years.

Conditions which might otherwise develop into invasive cancer can be identified and treated.

In Suffolk, around 82pc of women aged 25 to 64 have had a cervical smear in the last five years - around 143,000 women.

The national programme expects a figure of 80pc for that age bracket. Last year, it dropped to 79.5pc for England.

Weblink:

www.cancerscreening.org.uk/cervical

n Is there enough aware about the benefits of cervical screening for young women? Has your life been affected by cervical cancer? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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