Millions of women are missing Pap smear tests

Women in England aged 25 to 49 are advised to have a Pap smear every three years. But new research shows that millions aren't facing the speculum.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Millions of women are missing Pap smear tests - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

Cervical cancer affects only those with a female reproductive system. But women across England are avoiding the procedure.

New research has found that three million women in England haven't had a smear test for three and a half years, which is a longer period than NHS guidelines recommend.

The screening detects abnormal cells at the entrance to the womb. Although it is widely considered to be awkward and painful by some women, others report the surprising ease of a smear test. Of course, many women have different experiences.

Cervical screenings have been in the spotlight in Europe in recent months. A review of 3,000 Pap smears in Ireland was due to be launched after more than 200 women found to have cancer should have received earlier intervention.

Eighteen of the 209 women died after being given incorrect Pap smear results by the Republic's national cervical cancer screening program.

Considering this, the UK findings are worrying at best.

Details from the story:

  • Around three million women in England haven't had a Pap smear test for three and a half years, new research has found.
  • The NHS target is for 80% of women aged 25 to 49 to be tested every three years. 
  • London had some of the lowest rates of women being screened for cervical cancer.
  • Now that screening rates are at the lowest they've been, GPs are trying to improve rates of women taking up the test.
  • NHS Digital suggested in June that GPs and health organisations could improve screening rates using a digital tool it launched a year ago. The tool displays information on local screening levels according to local authority and helps practitioners see where screening levels could be higher.
  • There were 854 deaths from cervical cancer in England in 2016.
  • Public Health England, the organisation that oversees health and social care in the country, said it was "concerned" by the fall, according to the BBC.
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