Cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in women and people with a cervix under 35, with two people in the UK per day dying from the disease.
Cervical screening can prevent up to 75 per cent of instances of cervical cancer and is estimated to save 5,000 lives per year.
But in Kent and Medway, up until March 2021, 27 per cent of those eligible did not attend cervical screening.
With Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, organised by leading cervical cancer charity Jo’s Trust, under way, we are encouraging all eligible women and people with a cervix to go for screening when invited.
NHS England and NHS Improvement's Dr Faiza Khan, Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Screening and Immunisation Lead for Kent and Medway, said: “The NHS in England routinely invites all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 for cervical screening.
“If you have received an invitation for a cervical screen, please don’t wait. Call your GP practice to book an appointment as soon as possible.
“Please do not delay because of the pandemic. Your practice has put in place safety measures to keep you safe during your cervical screening appointment.”
Cervical screening explained
Cervical screening primarily checks for the presence of high-risk Human Papilloma virus (HPV), which is a common virus that most people will get it at some point.
While, for people with high-risk HPV the risk of getting cervical cancer is low, finding high-risk HPV early means you can be monitored for abnormal cell changes.
Any abnormal cell changes can be treated, so they do not get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
While cervical cancer tends to develop very slowly, attending your routine cervical screen is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.
In checking for the presence of high-risk HPV, cervical screening identifies who is at higher risk of developing cervical cell changes and means that the cause of cervical cancer can be spotted and treated earlier.
NHS England and NHS Improvement's Dr Faiza Khan, Consultant in Public Health Medicine and Screening and Immunisation Lead for Kent and Medway, said: “If you test positive for HPV it doesn’t mean you have cervical cancer or will develop cervical cancer.
“Cell changes are easily treated and this prevents cervical cancer from developing.
“HPV is a common virus and most people will have it at some point in their life without knowing.
“HPV is nothing to be embarrassed about and does not mean that any partner has been unfaithful. In many cases, your immune system will naturally get rid of HPV.”