Let’s admit, cervical screenings (smear tests) are not a celebratory event in the diary, but they are an important one that shouldn’t be missed!
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic essential health services have come to a halt including lifesaving smear tests, the solution? Do your own smear test at home.
The tests are being rolled out to 31,000 women aged 25-64 years who are 15 months overdue for a check and live in Barnet, Camden, Islington, Newham and Tower Hamlets where screening appointment attendance is low.
Research by The Eve Appeal found a third of women didn’t attend their smear test within the last 12 months due to COVID-19. Smear tests check the health of the cervix are vital in identifying and preventing cervical cancer and have save an estimated 5,000 lives each year in the UK.
If you are wondering about the practicality and let’s face it, discomfiture we usually experience when it comes to having a smear test, rest assured that the smear test that is being sent to women is a simpler version of the standard test.
“… rest assured that the smear test that is being sent to women is a simpler version of the standard test.”
The at-home test kits identify the Human Papillomavirus (HP), a virus that can cause cervical cancer which can be identified by a swab of the vagina. Those taking the at-home test will also be given access to a video that explains how to do the test successfully.
Research by the NHS has shown that 99% of women will be able to successfully carry out the swab themselves at home and self-sampling is already available in Denmark and Australia.
NHS national clinical director for cancer, Professor Peter Johnson, said: “This is an important new way to make screening easier for thousands of women. We know there are lots of reasons why women might not attend a screening appointment, including worries about COVID.”
The biggest reason women do not attend their smear test appointment is due to embarrassment and misconceptions, with research by Jo’s Cervical Cancer showing that 35 percent of women miss their test for this reason.
Allowing women to screen themselves at home could hopefully see a significant rise in smear testing and cancer prevention.