Published:  03:02 PM, 08 March 2022 Last Update: 07:20 PM, 18 March 2022

South Asian women are urged not to ignore your Cervical screening invite

South Asian women are urged not to ignore your Cervical screening invite
  • A new nationalcampaign is calling on those eligible not to ignore their invite, as datareveals nearly 1 in 3 don’t take up the offer of cervical screening
  • A new surveyreveals that 17% of South Asian women who have been invited to screening havenever attended, higher than the 7% England average
  • A new campaignfilm has been released featuring South Asian women discussing cervicalscreening with aim of tackling barriers and driving uptake
  • BroadcasterNadia Ali calls on those eligible to attend their screening and take control oftheir health


The Departmentof Health and Social Care (DHSC), with the support of NHS England and NHSImprovement, has launched a major new national campaign, to increase thenumber of those eligible attending their cervical screening in England. The new Help Us Help You – Cervical Screening Saves Livescampaignurges women and people with a cervix not to ignore their cervical screeninginvite, and if they missed their last one, to book an appointment with their GPpractice now.  

Latest figuresat March 2021 show that nearly a third (30%) of eligible individuals – womenand people with a cervix aged between 25 and 64 – were not screened.

As part of thecampaign, a new survey of 3,000 women and people with a cervix commissioned byDHSC revealed that 17% of South Asian respondents who have been invited toscreening have never attended. This is higher than the England average, where7% have never attended. The survey also revealed a number of concerns aroundcervical screening. Across England, embarrassment was the most common reasonfor having never attended or missing an appointment (stated by 42% ofrespondents in England), followed by those who “kept putting it off” (34%) and“being worried it would be painful” (28%).

To tacklethese barriers and drive take up, a new film has been released featuring DrHenna Anwar discussing cervical screening with South Asian women and answeringtheir questions. Dr Anwar also encourages those eligible to book theirappointment when invited and contact their GP practice if they missed theirlast screening.

Dr HennaAnwar said: “Two women die every day from cervical cancer. This isparticularly sad because cervical cancer is one of the most preventablecancers. Screening can help stop cancer before it starts and saves thousands oflives every year. Do not ignore your cervical screening invite, and if youmissed your last one, you can still book an appointment with your GP practicenow.”

MariaCaulfield, Minister for Patient Safety and Primary Care, said: “Around twowomen die every day from cervical cancer, but screening takes just a fewminutes and can stop the disease before it starts. Through our new campaignwe’re calling on all women and people with a cervix to get screened tohelp save hundreds of lives. Even if you’re feeling embarrassed or nervous,please don’t ignore your invitation.”

Jas Dosanjh, aged48, believes we are fortunate to have the cervical screening programme. Shesaid: “As soon as I get my letter, I immediately book my appointment with thenurse at my GP surgery. My last screening was fine but when I was younger, myscreening results showed abnormal cells, so I had to be monitored every yearfor a number of years until the cells came back clear.”

Broadcaster,Nadia Ali has joined the campaign to help raise awareness of cervicalscreening and encourage uptake within the community.  She said: “It’s soimportant for us as South Asian women to talk about cervical screening. We needto encourage our friends and family to attend their appointment when invited somore lives can be saved.”

Around 2,700women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year and 690 die fromthe disease– around two deaths a day. Previous estimates suggest screeningprevents 70% of cervical cancer deaths, but 83% could be prevented if everyoneattended regularly.

The campaignemphasises that screening, which only takes a few minutes, can help stopcervical cancer before it starts. Cervical screening checks for high-risk typesof the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which causes nearly all cervical cancers.This is the best way to find out who is at higher risk of developing thecervical cell changes that over time could potentially lead to cervicalcancer.  Any cervical cell changes can be treated, preventing cervicalcancer. That is why attending screening appointments is so important. 

Top tips forwomen attending cervical screenings:

If you arefeeling nervous or embarrassed, talk to your nurse or doctor during the test –they can put your mind at ease and answer all your questions

If you feeluncomfortable about feeling exposed from the waist down, wear a skirt, dress,or long jumper which you can keep on during the test. Don’t worry if you forget– you’ll be provided with a disposable modesty sheet to cover yourself

The tests areusually done by a female nurse but don’t be afraid to ask for a nurse or doctorof a particular gender when booking your appointment.

If you findthe screening painful you can ask for a different sized speculum or the nursecan advise you on different positions to make it more comfortable

You can listento music or a podcast or ask your nurse about breathing exercises – this mayhelp you relax or distract you

Don’t beafraid to talk about screening with your friends and family! Everyone’s haddifferent experiences, and discussing it may help when you go for your nextappointment

Call ToAction

Don’t ignoreyour cervical screening invite and if you missed your last screening book anappointment with your GP practice.

Cervicalscreening only takes a few minutes – it’s a few minutes that could save yourlife!

For furtherinformation about cervical screening, please visit www.nhs.uk/cervicalscreening

 

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