WOMEN in Portsmouth and south east Hampshire are being urged to make sure they attend their free cervical screening appointments.
Health professionals from NHS England are urging women across the area to get the cervical screening test as statistics show the uptake of invitations to screening has been low.
All women aged between 25 and 64 are invited for checks as part of the NHS cervical screening programme.
Regular screening looks for any changes in the cells of the cervix, so that abnormalities can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.
But in Portsmouth only 75 per cent of those eligible for screening took part between October and December last year – below the national target of 80 per cent.
The figure for Hampshire stands at 80 per cent.
Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited for testing every three years, and women aged between 50 and 64 are invited every five years.
Dr David Chilvers, chairman of Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group, said: ‘Regular cervical screening provides a high degree of protection against developing cervical cancer and is offered free on the NHS.
‘It’s not a test to find cancer. It is a screening test to detect abnormalities (pre-cancer) at an early stage in the cells in the cervix.
‘Early detection and treatment through cervical screening can prevent up to 75 per cent of cervical cancers from developing in the UK.
‘Not going for cervical screening is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer so we would urge anyone who gets an invitation to attend their cervical screening test.’
It’s a message that’s being backed by the national screening programme.
Clare Simpson, screening lead for NHS England Wessex, said: ‘The cervical screening programme is very effective at reducing cases of cervical cancer.
‘Through screening we are able to detect cell changes early, that if left untreated, might go on to develop into cancer.
‘We really want to stress how important it is to go for screening when you receive your invite. Not going for screening is the biggest risk factor in developing cervical cancer.’