Manchester women are being urged to attend smear tests as attendance hits lowest in 20 years

  • It has been revealed that Manchester has one of the lowest turnouts for cervical cancer screenings
  • Healthcare professionals say the ‘Jade Goody effect’ has worn off

Every year in the UK, more than 3,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer. With all cases being preventable, Macmillan Cancer Support and Cancer Research UK are warning women that missing a smear test can have life changing consequences.

According to Cancer Research, attending screenings prevents 75% of cervical cancers from developing. However, one in three women turn down their invitation to attend and at 64% Manchester has one of the lowest turnouts for screenings.

Macmillan nurse specialist, Karen Blackwood believes that women miss their screenings due to embarrassment.

She said: “Some women can find the procedure a bit uncomfortable or embarrassing, or they have heard unpleasant stories about the test. However, the test itself only takes around five minutes and for most women it’s not painful and is quite straightforward.

“All of the nurses who carry out the screenings are professionals who carry out numerous of tests every year.”

Manchester mum, Jenny Kwiatkowski, 37, was diagnosed with cervical cancer just six months after the birth of her fifth son.

“I’m now three and a half years cancer free and I can say without a doubt that this smear saved my life. It makes me so angry to read women are embarrassed or too busy to go for their smears. Believe me, cancer treatment is far more undignified than a two minute smear and it takes over your whole life. Just go, it can save your life and it has saved mine,” she said.

When reality TV star, Jade Goody passed away due to the disease back in 2009, an extra 400,000 women attended their cervical cancer screenings. Since then, every year during cervical cancer prevention week, celebrities come together to help raise awareness, sharing selfies sporting smeared lipstick on social media, along with the hashtag #smearforsmear.

But nine years on, healthcare professionals say that the ‘Jade Goody effect’ has worn off and the number of women missing their screenings is in decline.

Karen added: “There are several things being done to encourage more women to attend their cervical screening tests, such as a greater choice of more convenient clinic locations and appointment times, including weekends. There is also more education about cervical cancer and raising awareness of the need for cervical screening, which, for most women, can help prevent cancer and, essentially, save more lives.”

Every woman over the age of 25 is invited by their GP to attend a cervical screening every three years until the age of 49. You can find out more about cervical cancer screenings on the NHS website