Tens of thou­sands of women miss­ing out on po­ten­tially life-sav­ing screen­ing tests

West Sussex County Times - - News - Is­abella Cipirska

Tens of thou­sands of el­i­gi­ble West Sus­sex women have missed their last smear test, lat­est fig­ures show, amid warn­ings the coro­n­avirus cri­sis has stoked anx­i­ety over get­ting the health checks.

A sur­vey by Jo’s Cer­vi­cal Can­cer Trust re­vealed the NHS was fac­ing new chal­lenges to at­ten­dance amid the pan­demic, as some women avoided mak­ing ap­point­ments over fear of catch­ing Covid-19 or putting ex­tra strain on the health ser­vice.

Women aged 25 to 49 are in­vited for screen­ing ev­ery three years, while those aged 50 to 64 re­ceive in­vi­ta­tions ev­ery five years.

NHS Dig­i­tal data showed 75 per cent of the 223,874 women in West Sus­sex el­i­gi­ble for a smear test by the end of 2019 had been screened – the point at which the lat­est data is avail­able. Although that was up from 74 per cent over the same pe­riod in 2018, it meant 56,710 women in the area were miss­ing out on the po­ten­tially life-sav­ing pro­gramme shortly be­fore the Covid-19 cri­sis struck.

Cer­vi­cal screen­ing re­quires a test that looks for changes in the cells of the cervix which could de­velop into can­cer.

A small sam­ple of cells is taken from the cervix us­ing a soft brush.

Across Eng­land, 72 per cent of el­i­gi­ble women had been screened by the end of

De­cem­ber, up slightly from 71 per cent the year be­fore.

Cer­vi­cal screen­ing ser­vices across Eng­land are slowly un­paus­ing fol­low­ing dis­rup­tion dur­ing lock­down, which saw in­vites sus­pended and ap­point­ments de­layed.

Jo’s Cer­vi­cal Can­cer Trust said while low up­take was ‘al­ready a con­cern’ be­fore Covid-19, the pan­demic has cre­ated fur­ther bar­ri­ers to at­ten­dance.

A sur­vey of 851 women car­ried out by the trust re­veals de­layed and can­celled cer­vi­cal screen­ing ap­point­ments have left nearly four in ten women feeling wor­ried, while 12 per cent said they are less likely to at­tend than be­fore the pan­demic. Some 13 per cent thought was best to put off get­ting a smear test at the mo­ment.

A quar­ter of women said they are wor­ried about their risk of catch­ing the coro­n­avirus if they at­tend a screen­ing, while fears around safety (11 per cent), not want­ing to put ‘ad­di­tional strain’ on the NHS (15 per cent) and un­cer­tainty over changes to ser­vices were also se­lected as rea­sons for con­cern.

Robert Mu­sic, the trust’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “Cer­vi­cal screen­ing isn’t al­ways the eas­i­est test and we must try to pre­vent the coro­n­avirus mak­ing it even harder. We want ev­ery woman to have the in­for­ma­tion and sup­port they need to feel able to make de­ci­sions about their health.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.