Women in Leeds who have received an invitation for their first cervical screening are being urged to book their appointment as soon as possible.
Women registered with a GP practice are invited to attend their first cervical screening, also known as a smear test, at the age of 25. Trans men or non-binary people who are registered as female with their GP practice are also invited.
Working with local communities in the city, Cancer Wise Leeds is helping to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening among those aged under 25 and encourage young people to have the life-saving test when invited. Research has indicated that those aged 25 to 49 are less likely to attend their cervical screening appointment than older women.
Funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research, led by Leeds City Council and delivered in partnership with the Leeds Cancer Programme, Cancer Wise Leeds has aimed over the past three years to significantly increase participation in the three national screening programmes for bowel, breast and cervical cancer.
Cervical screening helps to prevent cancer by detecting early changes in cells and allowing them to be treated before they become cancer.
Those invited for a screening should take part even if they have had the HPV vaccine or are not currently sexually active.
Clerical officer Emily, from Leeds, recently took up her first screening invitation. Speaking about her experience, Emily said:
“When I received my invitation for a smear test, I was a little bit apprehensive. However, the support I received from my GP surgery to help book my appointment was fantastic and it made the process really easy.
“On the day of the screening, I really could not have received any more help or support from the nurse who carried out my screening. Nothing was too much trouble for her, and in describing the process and answering all my questions, she really set me at ease.
“While the smear test was a little uncomfortable, now I’ve done it once, I truly believe it will be so much easier next time. If I were to offer any advice to anyone taking the test, it would be move at your own pace, ask all the questions you need, and it will be over in a flash.”
Councillor Salma Arif, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member with responsibility for Public Health and Active Lifestyles, said:
“Through the Cancer Wise Leeds project, we are encouraging every single person in Leeds who has been invited for their first cervical screening to make their appointment as soon as they possibly can. The reason we want this to happen is very simple – cancer screening can save lives.
“We know the thought of attending a cervical screening can be worrying for some women. This includes for those young people approaching or aged 25 that are being asked to attend for the first time.
“If you do have any issues or concerns, please don’t ignore your screening invite, but instead speak to your local GP practice. Medical professionals will be delighted to help, answer any questions you have and also talk and support you through the process on the day. Confidentiality is assured and where possible, every attempt will be made to meet any specific needs or needs that you have.”
Cancer Wise Leeds is a three-year programme led by Screening and Awareness coordinators. Working within Primary Care Networks in communities across the city, the coordinators are working with communities to better understand how the screening process could be improved to meet their needs.
This post is based on a press release issued by Cancer Wise Leeds