“We have the choice to prevent or at least reduce the incidence of cervical cancer because we have the screening service available. We need to make sure that we use it.”

Christina McKelvie MSP, Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse

Almost 3.7 million women in the UK aren’t attending potentially life-saving smear tests, a health charity has warned.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust has attributed declining attendance for cervical screening to a 6 per cent rise in cervical cancer cases in the UK.

Christina McKelvie says: “We have the screening available, yet we’re seeing one in three young women (aged 25-29) not attending for a smear test in the last five years. Older women aged 55 to 59 are also dropping back in their attendance. That’s worrying. If more women were screened, then the incidence of the disease would drop back with around an estimated 27 per cent reduction in cancer deaths.”

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust chief executive, Robert Music, says: "Cervical cancer is a preventable disease and we cannot afford for incidences to keep rising.

"So it is a matter of urgency that we see positive actions to turn around the downward trend in cervical screening uptake and we are urging policy makers and health professionals to increase investment in targeted approaches to tackle barriers to screening for women of every age, ethnicity, location and circumstance."

From Sunday 24th January, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust launched its #SmearForSmear campaign for the second year, marking the start of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.

More than 1 in 5 women in the UK do not attend cervical screening annually. Cervical cancer affects over 3,000 women annually and 1,000 will lose their lives; that’s 8 women diagnosed every day and 3 women dying from the disease.

Cervical cancer can be largely prevented thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination. Yet numbers of women taking up this potentially lifesaving test is declining year on year. Uptake for vaccination is positive but still one girl in 10 does not get vaccinated.