Women in North Ayrshire and across Scotland eligible for free cervical screening are being urged to go for a smear test when invited, as part of a nationwide campaign.
Cervical screening is offered to women aged between 25 and 64. The test checks the cervix for the human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes 99% of cervical cancers, but has no symptoms.
Uptake of cervical screening in Scotland has declined in recent years. In 20/21, uptake amongst those eligible was 69.3%, compared to 71.2% the previous year and 73.1% attending in 2018/19.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“A five-minute smear test could save your life. Even if everything is expected to be fine, it’s important not to ignore an invite, as the test can help stop cervical cancer before it starts.
“The test screens for HPV and helps ensure cell changes are identified and treated early.
“This campaign has been developed to encourage more eligible women to attend and ultimately save more lives. It’s understandable some may feel anxious about the smear test itself, but information and advice are available to help make your appointment easier.”
Laura McAdam, 36, from Ayrshire, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016, at the age of 31.
Two years earlier, the result of Laura’s regular smear test had come back showing cell changes. In order to be monitored more closely, Laura attended check-up appointments every six months and when the results kept showing cell changes, she underwent a colposcopy - a procedure used to look at the cervix - in November 2016.
Having been diagnosed as a result of screening, Laura is fully aware of the importance of early detection and what a huge difference it can make. She said:
“I was diagnosed early thanks to attending a regular smear test and I’m so grateful that my cell changes were picked up early enough - it saved my life. I had no symptoms whatsoever before that, so I know first-hand how important it is to attend screenings, even if nothing seems wrong.
“I had a few niggly back pains as a result of the bladder operation, but other than that I feel absolutely fine now.
“All the hospital staff have been fantastic throughout all this and I can’t thank them enough for their care.”
For further information, visit getcheckedearly.org.
To view the new campaign here.