Over a third of women aged 25-29 years old in Wales do not attend cervical screening, research from Cervical Screening Wales has found.
Women that attend for cervical screening when they are invited aged 25 are more likely to attend when invited in the future, therefore significantly reducing their risk of developing cervical cancer. Every year around 160 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in Wales, and it is the most common type of cancer in women under the age of 35.
‘The fall in cervical screening uptake rates is a serious public health issue facing the whole of the UK,’ said Louise Dunk, Head of Programme for Cervical Screening Wales.
‘It’s as simple as that. By not making an appointment you are missing the chance of preventing cervical cancer from developing, or picking it up at an early stage when it is more treatable.’
Over 99 per cent of cervical cancers are caused by high-risk strains of the human papillomavirus. In September 2018, Wales became the first UK nation to fully adopt high-risk HPV testing as the first test done on every cervical screening sample. According to Cervical Screening Wales, this has been proven to be a more reliable and sensitive method to help prevent women from developing cervical cancer.
‘We know that women aged between 25 and 29 are the least likely age group to have their smear. The reasons behind this are complex but issues around embarrassment and body shame are commonly cited,’ added Ms Dunk.
‘We are calling for women to be more body-positive and love every part of themselves – even those parts they can’t see like their cervix. And the best way to take care of their cervix is to attend for regular cervical screening.’
In order to encourage more women to attend, Cervical Screening Wales is launching a social media campaign called #loveyourcervix.