One-in-three women snub smear test of­fer

THE NA­TIONAL TAR­GET IS 80 PER CENT BUT JUST 63.4 PER CENT HAVE BEEN SCREENED IN MANCH­ESTER

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By ALICE CACHIA news­[email protected] @MENnews­desk

MORE than a third of women in Manch­ester haven’t had their smear test done – and the rate is get­ting worse.

New NHS fig­ures show that 157,500 women should have had the screen­ing done as of 2018/19.

But 57,718 hadn’t had the test. It means more than one in three el­i­gi­ble women have missed out on what could be a life-sav­ing screen­ing – or 36.6 per cent.

Cam­paign­ers blasted fund­ing cuts for cancer cam­paigns as ‘highly frus­trat­ing’ – es­pe­cially be­cause the ben­e­fits can be sig­nif­i­cant in ar­eas where low at­ten­dance is preva­lent.

The rate is up from 36.5pc the year be­fore and is at its high­est since 2013/14, when fig­ures at a lo­cal au­thor­ity level were first pub­lished.

It means just 63.4pc of women had been screened as of 2018/19 – far be­low the na­tional tar­get of 80.0pc.

All women aged be­tween 25 and 64 are in­vited for reg­u­lar smear tests, which aim to spot ab­nor­mal­i­ties that could de­velop into cer­vi­cal cancer if un­de­tected and left un­treated.

Those aged be­tween 25 and 49 should have been screened within the past three-anda-half years while those aged be­tween 50 and 64 should have been screened within the past five-and-a-half years.

The tests are free on the NHS and usu­ally take less than five min­utes. While there was a spike in screen­ing fol­low­ing the death of high-pro­file me­dia star Jade Goody in 2009, in re­cent years the rate of women hav­ing smear tests has been fall­ing. Robert Mu­sic, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Jo’s Cer­vi­cal Cancer Trust, said: “We re­main far be­low the 80pc tar­get and have a long way to go. “Among young women, it re­mains un­der two in three book­ing a po­ten­tially life-sav­ing test, and big vari­a­tions across ages demon­strate the need for tar­geted ac­tiv­i­ties to tackle the dif­fer­ent bar­ri­ers across the life course.

“Fund­ing for na­tional Be Clear on Cancer cam­paigns has been cut and this is highly frus­trat­ing.

“There are ar­eas of the coun­try where un­der half of the el­i­gi­ble pop­u­la­tion are be­ing screened and we know the ben­e­fits of these cam­paigns can be sig­nif­i­cant.”

Across Eng­land, 15.2 mil­lion women aged be­tween 25 and 64 should have had a smear test done as of 2018/19.

But 4.3 mil­lion of these women had not – a rate of 28.1pc.

While that was a slight im­prove­ment from 28.6pv the year be­fore, it re­mains the se­cond-high­est rate on mod­ern record. Com­pa­ra­ble fig­ures go back as far as 2010/11, when 24.9pc of women missed out on the screen­ing.

We re­main far be­low the 80pc tar­get and have a long way to go

Robert Mu­sic, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Jo’s Cer­vi­cal Cancer Trust

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