WOMEN are being urged to book in a smear test to reduce their risk of deadly cancer.
The NHS today issued a call for anyone eligible for a cervical screening to come forward.
Around 4.6million women — a third — haven’t taken up the latest test.
Doctors are encouraging women to “put your health first” and book a screening today because “getting checked can save your life”.
It comes after a charity urged the Government to commit to eliminating cervical cancer in Britain.
Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust said the UK has the “tools to get there” by improving screening, public awareness and vaccine uptake.
But concerns were today raised about uptake of jabs for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) — the virus found in 99 per cent of cervical cancers — in 12- and 13-year-olds .
The vaccine is offered to all boys and girls in the age group and is given in two doses.
It significantly reduces cervical cancer rates in vaccinated women and also slashes the risks of other cancers and genital warts in both genders.
But coverage fell by 7 per cent in girls and 8.7 per cent in boys last year.
Separately, the NHS sent out a record number of smear test invites, with more than 5million women offered a screening.
The figure was up around 10.5 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.
Smear tests check cervix health and invites are sent to all women aged 25 to 64 by letter.
A small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and tested for HPV.
What are the symptoms of cervical cancer?
Symptoms of cervical cancer include:
vaginal bleeding that’s unusual for you – including bleeding during or after sex, between your periods or after the menopause, or having heavier periods than usual
changes to your vaginal discharge
pain during sex
pain in your lower back, between your hip bones (pelvis), or in your lower tummy
Source: The NHS
If the virus is found, the sample is tested to see if the cells have shown signs of change, which can be treated before they turn into cancer.
Dr Kiren Collison, NHS interim medical director for primary care, said: “We have made great progress on our Cervical Screening Programme.
“The combined effects of the HPV vaccine and the new, more sensitive way of screening for cervical cancer means that we have the opportunity to eliminate cervical cancer altogether.
“Having the potential to completely eradicate a disease that affects thousands of people every year is remarkable, but to do this, it is vital that people take up the offer of a test.”
She added: “If you have received an invitation, or missed your last screening, don’t wait to make an appointment.
“Put your health first and book an appointment with your GP practice or sexual health clinic today — getting checked can save your life.”
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