GPs and nurses in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley are backing a national campaign to remind patients that screening helps detect minor changes to the cervix which can often be treated and in many cases prevent the development of cancer.
Local people are encouraged to book an appointment with their GP practice if they receive a cervical screening invitation letter, or if they have they missed previous invites.
Two people die every day from cervical cancer in England. Patients can protect themselves against the risk of cervical cancer by attending their screening when invited; it is estimated that cervical screening saves around 5,000 lives each year.
However, cervical screening is at a 20-year low with one in four people in the UK not attending their test. Everyone with a cervix, which is most women and many trans people between the ages of 25 and 64, is invited to attend cervical screening every three or five years depending on their age.
Dr Sarah MacDermott, local GP and Chair of NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Many people put off coming for their test and I can understand why they may be fearful, or find it embarrassing or uncomfortable. However, I would like to reassure them that we do all we can to make patients feel at ease, it is over in a few minutes, and it could save your life.”
In the Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley area, 73.3% of eligible patients invited to attend in 2017/18 did so. Although above the national average of 71.7%, this means that almost 27% – over a quarter – did not.
Regular screening can help detect minor changes which can often be treated and prevent potentially harmful cells from developing into cancer.
The test is important for all women and trans men who have not had a full hysterectomy, regardless of ethnicity or sexuality.
Dr MacDermott added: “To make the test more comfortable, talk to the nurse. They are trained and experienced in how to help you feel more at ease. Wear a loose skirt or dress if you are comfortable doing so, to make you feel more covered. And you can always bring a family member or friend with you for support.”
To book your appointment, contact your GP practice. For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalscreening
NHS Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley CCG
2nd Floor, Gravesham Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend, Kent DA12 1AU