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Women missing out on vital cervical screening by not attending appointments

Healthcare professionals across south east London are urging women to go to their smear test appointments when invited to combat a decline in attendance.

Nationally, there are concerns about the decline in the number of women attending screening appointments. In Southwark, 77% of eligible women aged between 50 and 64 attended their smear test when invited to do so. This falls short of the national target of 80%.

The number of women aged between 25-49 years old who attend screenings has also declined, with a stark variation in the numbers across south east London. Take up of smear tests in Southwark is just 64% amongst young women who have been invited to attend. With cervical cancer being the most common cancer in women under the age of 35, raising awareness of cervical screening is vital.

Dr Esther Appleby, a GP leading screening projects for the south east London Cancer Alliance, said: "Every year there are more than 3,000 new cases of cervical cancer and nearly 900 hundreds deaths in the UK. This is a tragedy given that it is preventable.

"Although a cervical smear test can be a bit uncomfortable, it can detect changes that could develop into cancer if left. If you're nervous about having it done you could speak to your GP or practice nurse or take someone with you. Please have it done if it's due – it could save your life!"