Fears over low uptake of cervical screenings
Published on 20 January 2014 02:00 PM
Older women are putting themselves at risk by failing to attend cervical screening tests, claims cancer trust.
Research by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust reveals that 27.3% of women aged 60 to 64 no longer go to regular screenings - the lowest level on record since 1997.
The warning comes after research published last week showed those who skip screening are six times more likely to end up with cervical cancer.
However, only 16% of the 2,000 women polled by the charity identified non-attendance of screening as a risk factor for the disease.
Around 3,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year.
‘Lack of understanding' surrounding the disease
Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust is particularly worried about the low uptake of older women attending screenings regularly.
The most recent figures show that cervical cancer incidence in the 60 to 64 age group has increased by 29% in just one year alone.
A lack of understanding is also highlighted by the study in relation to the causes of the disease and the purpose of screening.
Some 14% of women aged 25 to 29 and 60 to 64 who were surveyed believed screening was a test that checks the health of the womb, while 10% of those aged 25 to 29 thought a screening test was for sexually transmitted diseases.
A further 54% failed to link persistent human papillomavirus infection - which causes changes to the cervical cells - to the development of cervical cancer.
We are seeing 'an increase in incidence for older women'
Robert Music, chief executive for Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, is calling on all women to ensure they attend regular screenings.
'If those who are delaying their screening continue to misunderstand the disease and how it can be prevented, then we are concerned that screening uptake will continue to fall and incidence will start to rise,' he said.
'Already we are seeing an increase in incidence for older women and we are very worried that the number of diagnoses amongst women in their late twenties will also go up.
'Ultimately our message to women who are overdue their next screening would be to seek support and advice, if they have any concerns, and make it a priority to attend.'
Copyright Press Association 2014