Every year, cervical cancer charity, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust run their #SmearforSmear campaign. We take a look at the most influential moments over the last year.
The number of women making smear test appointments is currently at a 21 year low: just 71.4 per cent of women are making the appointment, meaning in 2017-18, 1.28 million eligible women did not book an appointment.
There are many factors that put women off booking their appointment, all perfectly valid: from embarrassment and the fear of pain, to lack of information and anti-social GP opening hours, too many women are missing their appointments. Appointments that could be lifesaving.
To try and curb the reluctance many feel about getting their smear test, women around the country are taking steps to encourage their peers to make their smear appointments, and follow through with the procedure.
Chloe Delevingne – co-founder of the Lady Garden gynaecological cancer fund and older sister to Poppy and Cara Delevingne – decided to go on live television in January, to have a smear test in the hope it would reduce the stigma surrounding the test.
The 30-second test that could save your life.Chloe Delevingne has a smear test live on the Victoria Derbyshire programme. bbc.in/2R6ZD5K
Posted by BBC News on Friday, 25 January 2019
“It’s not painful. I’d describe it just as weird,” Chloe said as she was undergoing the examination.
Last month, BBC Social also released a video, following journalist Katy Johnston’s smear test.
“Realistically, this is two minutes of your life, a little bit of awkwardness, sure, embarrassment,” Katy says before she’s seen going into the appointment. “But it could stop cells in their tracks before they have a chance to become cancer.”
Also making the headlines recently, is the petition for the government to lower the age women can start getting appointments at, from 25 to 18.
In 2016, the age of eligibility was increased from 20 to 25, much to the dismay of many women. This was put down to women under 25 being likely to experience the normal cell changes that come with the HPV infection, however, their immune system will often clear up the infection on its own and return the cells to normal.
It is argued that testing women under 25 would lead to unnecessary treatment, while not changing the number of cases with cancer.
Despite this, women under 25 are still able to get cervical cancer, even if they’ve had the HPV vaccination at school.
The petition has since received over double the number of signatures it needed in order to be debated by parliament, however at the debate, MPs rejected a decrease in the age limit.
If you’re eligible to get a smear test, make sure you go. It can be daunting, nerve-wrecking and maybe even a little bit embarrassing. But, it can also be lifesaving.
**Cover image credit to @katieabey on Instagram**