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As part of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week (23-29 January), the NHS in Coventry and Warwickshire is raising awareness of the importance of cervical screening and getting their HPV vaccinations.

Cervical screening (smear test) is free to all women. It is a procedure many women avoid, without realising that it is a very effective method of indicating early risks of developing cervical cancer.

Over 3,100 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and it is the most common cancer in women under 35. National data by Cancer Research UK shows that cervical screening prevents at least 2,000 cervical cancer deaths each year in the UK. Women screened between the ages of 35 and 64 are thought to have a 60-80% lower risk of being diagnosed with cervical cancer in the five years following the test compared to women who haven’t been screened.

Despite the importance of cervical screening, there are concerns that many women are not making the time for the health check and so the NHS is encouraging everyone to book and appointment when they receive an invite.

All women between the ages of 25 and 64 should receive a letter in the post inviting them to make an appointment. Those under 25 will receive a letter up to 6 months before they turn 25, women aged 25-49 are invited for screening every three years and women aged 50-64 every five years. 

If you missed your last cervical screening, you do not need to wait for a letter to book an appointment. Extended access appointments are also available for those who are unable to attend appointments in regular GP surgery time - you can book an extended access appointment via your usual GP practice.

Women under 25 are also being reminded of the importance of the HPV vaccine which offers protection against a number of cancers. Girls are offered the vaccine at school at the ages of 12 or 13 and a study has found that girls who take up the offer of the vaccine are 87% less likely to develop cervical cancer.

Those who for whatever reason did not get the vaccine at school can get the vaccine through the NHS up to their 25th birthday.

You can find out more information on cervical screen via the NHS website, or via Jo’s Trust

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