Women urged to take up smear invitation

YOUNG Borders women are being urged to add a smear test to their list of New Year resolutions in what is this year’s Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, writes Mark Entwistle.

And local health experts are backing the national campaign.

The week-long event runs until Saturday.

All women aged 20-60 across Scotland are now being invited to have a free, quick, cervical screening test every three years.

But despite this invitation some never take up their appointment and national health chiefs say ignoring the invitation leaves women unprotected from the early signs of cervical cancer.

Many young women will now have received the HPV immunisation which helps protect against the virus which can cause cervical cancer, but NHS Borders are urging these women to also attend their cervical screening appointments. This brings together cervical cancer prevention for young women through the HPV immunisation programme with ongoing screening for those over 20 years. 

Dr Tim Patterson, public health consultant with NHS Borders, told TheSouthern this week: “Cervical cancer can strike women at any age which is why women as young as 20 are offered cervical screening, even if they have had the HPV vaccine.

“If caught early, it can usually be treated successfully so it makes sense to make sure you go for a regular cervical screening test and speak to your GP or practice nurse if you have any concerns.”

Carol Colquhoun, national screening programme co-ordinator, added: “We want to encourage as many women as possible to go for their cervical screening test by putting it on their list of things to do.

“Every year in Scotland more than 400,000 women are invited for screening and a quarter of them do not take up the invitation.”