Leeds women advised not to ignore screenings

Health leaders in Leeds are encouraging more women to go for their cervical screenings, as part of their support for Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (CCPW) from 19 - 25 January 2014.

Since the screening programme (also known as smear test) was introduced in the 1980s, the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year. However, around 20% of women aged between 25 and 64 invited to be screened currently don’t get the test done.

If cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it is usually possible to treat it using surgery. The stage at which cervical cancer is diagnosed is an important factor in determining a woman's outlook and around 750 women still die of cervical cancer in England each year.

Councillor Lisa Mulherin, Chair of Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, said:

“Although most women attend their cervical screening, I’m really keen to help raise awareness that prevention of cervical cancer is still a priority for the one in five who don’t. Screening means any potential problems can be picked up early, which we know means treatment is much more likely to be successful.

“Public knowledge and understanding of cervical screening is generally low and Cervical Cancer Prevention Week is a good time to become more aware of the benefits of screening.”

Because of the success of the NHS screening programme, cervical cancer is now an uncommon type of cancer in the UK. Around 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.

Dr Adrian Rees, Clinical Lead for Cancer, Leeds West CCG and Partner based at Yeadon Tarn Medical Practice, said:

“We urge all women to take up their invitation for a cervical screening test which checks the health of the cervix. For many women the test results show that everything is fine, but for around one in 20 women, the test shows changes in cells.

"These changes can be caused by many things and most will not lead to cervical cancer. However, the signs that it may develop can be spotted early on so it can be stopped before it even gets started. Not going for cervical screening is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer”.

It is possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, although the condition mainly affects sexually active women between the ages of 30 and 45. The condition is very rare in women under 25.


Case Study (provided by Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust):

Sarah Donaghey (from Leeds):

"I had a clear smear test when I was 25 and within a year I have had a radical hysterectomy due to having a high risk cancer that was not visible on the smear. The cancer I had was rare so chances are few people will have this one but the more common two cancers DO show up on smear test nearly all the time.

The symptom I went to the doctors with was bleeding after sex, this was the only one I had at the time, or what I knew of. The doctors didn’t tell me what it was or even ask me if I had any other symptoms of Cancer, I found out when I was finally admitted to hospital for tests. Be persistent, if you know something is not right then keep going until someone listens.

The other symptoms I had - which I found out later - were frequently needing to go for a wee, tiredness, bruising easily and towards the end, pain in my pelvic area. I have now been given the all clear but this has made a massive impact on my life as I cannot carry children.

Luckily they left my ovaries in so I can have kids but I will have to find a surrogate for this to happen. Having this cancer had a massive impact on my life, it made me really insecure in my relationship and I had nightmares for months. Please make sure you go for your smears it takes 5 minutes and it is not as uncomfortable as you may think, it can literally save your life."

Notes to editors

• All women aged between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening. Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited for testing every three years, and women aged between 50 and 64 are invited every five years.

• CCPW is a European wide initiative led by the European Cervical Cancer Association and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and aims to encourage women to take up their test, reducing the risks of late diagnosis and making successful diagnosis and treatment more likely.

• Further NHS information about cervical screening is available here: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cervical-screening-test/Pages/Introduction.aspx

• Cervical cancer incidence statistics can be found here:


Issued by:

Phil Morcom

Communications and Marketing team – Public Health

Leeds City Council

4th Floor West, Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Mobile: 0772 227 5370

Tel: 0113 395 0393

Fax: 0113 247 4736