By Ella Bicknell
Thousands of women in the region are missing out on potentially life-saving cervical screening, statistics show.
Data from the Department of Health and Social Care shows that a third of women are missing their cervical screenings.
All women and people with a cervix aged between 25 and 64 are eligible for a cervical screening test every three to five years.
Cervical screenings, or smear tests, check the health of a woman’s cervix for Human Papilloma Virus (HPV).
HPV is commonly passed through sexual contact, contracted by 4 in 5 people in the UK.
Most people suffer minor symptoms and make full recovery, however, in rare cases HPV can cause cell change within the cervix, the cause for 99% of all cervical cancers.
2 of the 9 women diagnosed with cervical cancer every day will die from the disease.
Doctors in South Yorkshire are urging women to get tested for HPV, as part of Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month.
Dr David Crichton, a Doncaster GP said: “It is crucial that all invited women attend their regular cervical cancer screenings.
“We have one of the best screening programmes in the world which prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing.”
Emma (not her real name), 26, had a positive HPV result from her first smear test, returning to GP for a colposcopy.
A colposcopy is a closer examination of the cervix using a speculum and tube fitted with a microscope and camera.
Emma said: “Although nobody wants a diagnosis of HPV, I found both my smear and colposcopy a really positive experience.
“As someone who has taken a long time to come to terms with my body, seeing my cervix and what my body does on the inside, for the first time, I saw how amazing my body is.
Emma said that when she worked as a receptionist in a medical surgery, she had to “reassure patients that would be in tears about their smear test results that a positive HPV result does not mean cancer”.
She said: “I understand why people might skip their smears to avoid bad news- But that’s a case of cutting off one’s nose to spite your face”.
Dr Karen Forshaw, GP for Don Valley Healthcare said: “Early detection of HPV gives us a best chance of preventing a silent and deadly cancer”
She said: “I have to be honest- even as a doctor, there have been times I kept putting off my smear, but it is essential for people to not miss their appointments.
“You need to put that screening at the top of your list of priorities – not at the bottom”.
Photo by Nenad Stojkovic via Flickr