More than a quarter of women missing smear tests are unaware they exist

July 3, 2017, Cancer Research UK
More than a quarter of women missing smear tests are unaware they exist
Credit: Shutterstock.com

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of women who are overdue for a smear test don't know about the cervical screening programme, according to a Cancer Research UK survey published in the July Edition of the European Journal of Cancer.

Around half (51 per cent) of those overdue for the test said they intended to go in the future and these were more likely to be younger (aged 25-34).

But 15 percent of those overdue said they had decided not to attend at all and these were more likely to be older women (aged 55-64).

The research, conducted by Cancer Research UK-funded scientists at UCL, included survey responses from more than 3,100 eligible women aged 24-64, of whom around 790 were overdue for a .

Lack of awareness was higher in women with English as a second language compared with native English-speakers, and this language issue explained the lack of awareness in women from minority ethnic groups compared with white British women.

Women who were overdue for a smear test were also more likely to be from lower income families.

Around three-quarters (73 – 78 per cent) of eligible women in the UK are up to date with cervical screening but this is a fall compared with recent years. Around 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical each year in the UK and around 900 women die from it.

Study leader Dr Jo Waller from the UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health Care , said: "It's worrying that so many women don't know about cervical screening. This study also suggests that many women – particularly younger ones – don't get round to , even when they intend to go.

"The results around lack of awareness suggest that campaigns using TV, radio, social media or face-to-face visits may be better ways of communicating with women about screening than relying on letters in the post, which is the current method. And for women who find making an appointment stays on tomorrow's to-do list, simple steps such as extra reminders, or specific appointment slots for first-time screenings could really make a difference and potentially save lives."

Sarah Williams, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "This study shows that many women who aren't up to date with screening haven't deliberately decided not to attend. And we may need to be more creative in our efforts to help specific groups of women, rather than resorting to conventional 'one-size-fits-all' awareness campaigns.

"Cervical prevents an estimated 2,000 deaths each year in the UK, so it's imperative that we do all we can to inform women about it and to make it easier for them to make well-informed decisions about whether to attend, and to take up their invitations if they decide to accept them."

Explore further: More than two-thirds of cervical cancer deaths prevented by screening

More information: Laura A.V. Marlow et al. Understanding the heterogeneity of cervical cancer screening non-participants: Data from a national sample of British women, European Journal of Cancer (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.ejca.2017.04.017

Related Stories

More than two-thirds of cervical cancer deaths prevented by screening

September 19, 2016
Cervical screening prevents 70 per cent of cervical cancer deaths and if all eligible women regularly attended screening this would rise to 83 per cent, according to research led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

Screening, HPV vaccine can prevent cervical cancer: FDA

February 8, 2017
(HealthDay)—Women can reduce their risk of cervical cancer through vaccination and screening, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Women should continue cervical cancer screening as they approach age 65

May 1, 2017
Cervical cancer is often thought of as a disease that primarily affects young women. Because of this, many older women fail to keep up with appropriate screening as they age. While current guidelines indicate that screening ...

6 things you need to know about cervical screening

June 13, 2017
It's Cervical Screening Awareness Week, so we're giving a run-down of what you need to know about cervical screening, also known as the smear test.

Low incidence of cervical cancer, CIN3+ for HPV-negative women

October 7, 2016
(HealthDay)—Human papillomavirus (HPV)-negative women have low long-term incidence of cervical cancer and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 3 or worse (CIN3+), which supports an extension of the cervical screening ...

ACOG: New recommendations for cervical cancer screening

December 23, 2015
(HealthDay)—In a practice bulletin published in the January issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, new recommendations are presented for cervical cancer screening and prevention.

Recommended for you

Study finds gut microbiome can control antitumor immune function in liver

May 24, 2018
Scientists have found a connection between bacteria in the gut and antitumor immune responses in the liver. Their study, published May 25 in Science, was led by researchers in the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) at the National ...

Low-fat diet tied to better breast cancer survival

May 24, 2018
(HealthDay)—Breast cancer patients who adopted a low-fat diet were more likely to survive for at least a decade after diagnosis, compared to patients who ate fattier fare, new research shows.

A cascade of immune processes offers insights to triple-negative breast cancer

May 24, 2018
Cancer is crafty. To survive and thrive, tumors find a way of thwarting our body's natural systems.

By forming clots in tumors, immune cell aids lung cancer's spread

May 24, 2018
University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have found that by helping to form clots within tumors, immune cells that flock to a particular type of lung cancer are actually building a foundation ...

Cancer cells co-opt pain-sensing 'wasabi receptor' to survive oxidative stress

May 24, 2018
Anyone who's taken a bite of a sandwich with too much spicy mustard or a piece of sushi with too much wasabi can attest to the tear-inducing sensation these condiments can cause. These loud warnings to the nervous system ...

Tumor cells evade death through in extremis DNA repair

May 24, 2018
Greater knowledge of the mechanisms that contribute to the survival of tumour cells is key to vanquishing them. The study published today in the journal Cancer Cell, headed by Angel R. Nebreda, ICREA researcher at the Institute ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.