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March 2019

Campaign aims to boost cervical screening uptake

Public Health England (PHE) has launched a major new national campaign to increase the number of women attending their cervical screening across England. Screening is currently at a 20-year low, with 1 in 4 eligible women (those aged 25 to 64) in the UK not attending their test.

The ‘Cervical Screening Saves Lives’ campaign, which will include TV ads, will encourage women to respond to their cervical screening invitation letter, and if they missed their last smear test, to book an appointment at their GP practice.

Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease – two deaths every day. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented.

The new PHE campaign provides practical information about how to make the test more comfortable, and gives reassurance to women, who may be fearful of finding out they have cancer, that screening is not a test for cancer. It also avoids the term ‘smear test’ amid claims that this terminology may be putting some women off.

Professor Anne Mackie, Director of Screening Programmes at PHE said: ‘The decline in numbers getting screened for cervical cancer is a major concern as it means millions of women are missing out on a potentially life-saving test. We want to see a future generation free of cervical cancer but we will only achieve our vision if women take up their screening invitations.’