News ID: 237877
Published: 1217 GMT January 25, 2019

Lowering age for cervical cancer screening to be debated by MPs

Lowering age for cervical cancer screening to be debated by MPs
SHUTTERSTOCK

MPs are to debate lowering the age for cervical cancer screenings from 25 to 18 following the release of an online petition that's amassed more than 130,000 signatures.

The petition was launched by Natasha Sale, a woman who had been diagnosed with metastatic cervical cancer, according to The Independent.

In the petition, Sale expressed her belief that the age for smear tests should be lowered to 18 "to enable all women to detect cell changes and prevent cancer".

"If I can do anything with my life I want to make this change happen, it's too late for me but it's not too late for the next generation of young ladies," she wrote on the petition's webpage before passing away at the age of 31 in December 2018.

Her family and friends continued with her endeavor to reach more than 100,000 signatures so that the motion could be debated in parliament, an ambition that they've now successfully achieved.

The petition to lower the recommended age for smear tests for women will be debated by MPs on Monday 28 January.

Helen Jones MP, chair of the Petitions Committee, will open the debate, which will be available to watch live at parliamentlive.tv.

In September 2018, the government released a statement with regards to the petition, expressing its gratitude towards Sale's efforts to raise awareness of the women's health issue.

"The government accepted the UK National Screening Committee recommendation that the first invitation for cervical screening should be offered at age 25 based on the assessment of research evidence," the statement reads.

"Public Health England has been running 'Be Clear on Cancer' campaigns since 2011. These are designed to raise the public's awareness of specific cancer symptoms; encourage people with those symptoms to go to the doctor; and diagnose cancer at an earlier stage, and therefore make it more treatable, and thereby improve cancer survival rates."

According to the NHS, women under the age of 25 won't usually receive a request to have a smear test due to the rarity of the disease among the age group.

"While HPV infection is very common in women under 25, their immune systems will often clear the infection and the abnormal cells will go back to normal without treatment," the NHS adds.

A recent study conducted by Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust found that many young women are put off from having cervical screenings due to embarrassment.

Of the 2,000 women surveyed by the charity, 72 percent said that embarrassment would cause them to delay or miss a test, while 69 percent stated that they didn't feel comfortable with the notion of a stanger examining their genital area.

Celebrities including Rebekah Vardy and Michelle Keegan have recently been using their platforms to break down the stigma that surrounds smear tests and encourage women to book their appointments.

"More than 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK, and nearly 900 die annually and yet one in four women skip cervical screening because of ‘embarrassment'," Vardy wrote in an Instagram caption.

"Don't be a statistic ladies."

   
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