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The NHS has issued a call for anyone eligible for cervical screening to come forward for a potentially life-saving appointment, with nearly a third, around 4.6 million, not taking up their latest test.
Screening helps prevent cervical cancer by using a highly effective test to check for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV), which is found in over 99% of all cervical cancers and which may cause abnormal cells to develop in the cervix. These abnormal cells can, over time, turn into cancer if left untreated.
Around 2,700 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, but the NHS screening programme helps save around 5,000 lives each year.
GP and NHS Interim Medical Director for Primary Care, Dr Kiren Collison said: “We have made great progress on our Cervical Screening Programme and the combined effects of the HPV vaccine and the new, more sensitive way of screening for cervical cancer means that we have the opportunity to eliminate cervical cancer altogether.
“Having the potential to completely eradicate a disease that affects thousands of people every year is remarkable, but in order to do this, it is vital that people take up the offer of a test – so if you have received an invitation, or missed your last screening, don’t wait to make an appointment, put your health first and book an appointment with your GP practice or sexual health clinic today – getting checked can save your life.”
Screening involves taking a small sample of cells from the cervix and looking for high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) that could develop into cervical cancer if left untreated.
Eligible people aged between 25 to 64 are invited by letter every 3-5 years depending on their age, or more frequently if HPV or cell changes are detected.