As the anniversary of Essex girl Jade Goody’s death approaches (22 March 2009), NHS South East Essex is urging local women to ensure they attend regular cervical cancer screening tests (smear tests) to help protect them from cervical cancer, which could save their lives.
Estimates show that in south east Essex, women aged 25-29 are the most likely to miss their smear test. Jade’s high-profile battle with cancer initially led to a sharp rise in the number of women undergoing screening. It is hoped that women across Essex will continue this trend and regularly attend screening appointments and that young women accept the invitation of an HPV vaccine.
Margaret Gray, Associate Director for Public Health for NHS South East Essex said:
“Jade’s bravery and openness in her fight against cervical cancer helped young women everywhere to understand the importance of attending regular screening appointments. Regular cervical screening is the best way to identify abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix which can be monitored or treated to prevent the development of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the most preventable form of cancer – yet it is still the second biggest cause of deaths from cancer in women between the ages of 30 and 34 in the UK. A cervical smear test just takes minutes – but it could mean the difference between life and death.”
Cervical screening (smear tests) pick up abnormalities in about 200,000 women a year, and around 2,800 women a year are diagnosed with cervical
NHS South East Essex offers cervical screening to all women aged between 25 and 64. If you are registered with a GP you will get a letter when your screening appointment is due (make sure your surgery has your current address).
- Women aged 25 to 49 are screened every three years.
- Women aged 50 to 64 are screened every five years.
Regular cervical screening is the best way to identify abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Since September 2008, NHS South East Essex has also been part of a national programme to vaccinate girls aged 12-13 against human papilloma virus (HPV). Most HPV infections are harmless or cause genital warts, however some types can cause cervical cancer.
All girls born between 1 September 1990 and 31 August 1993 registered with a GP in south east Essex, are eligible for the HPV vaccine.
For enquiries about receiving the HPV vaccine, please call the NHS South East Essex Immunisation Team on 01702 577031.