EASTBOURNE women are being advised to ensure they are up to date with their smear tests for Cervical Screening Awareness Week.
A consultant gynaecologist stresses the importance of the cytology tests, more commonly known as the smear.
Recent figures have shown 20 per cent of women still do not attend cervical screening appointments.
The consultant’s support of the campaign aims to raise awareness and educate the local community to the risks associated with cervical cancer, which takes nearly 1,000 lives each year in the UK.
Women aged 25 to 49 are invited to attend for cervical screening every three years and those between 50 and 64 are invited every five years.
Mark Malak, consultant gynaecologist at BMI The Esperance Hospital, said, “Every day I see the effect this disease has on my patients and their families and each week I see women who have missed routine cytology tests or avoided them altogether.
“We are very concerned that some women are not attending this vital cancer screening test.
“Early detection of changes to the cells of the cervix can be easily picked up and treated following a routine cytology test.
“The test detects pre-cancer changes which occur in the cervix, and outpatient colposcopy treatment of these changes is effective in preventing cancer from developing.
“Often I see patients present with symptoms when cancer has developed and progressed to a late stage, when treatments are more complex.
“It is just as important for younger women to attend as they are at risk just like older women.”
Mr Malak urged women in the Eastbourne area to educate themselves to the important role smear tests play in prevention and early detection.
“The cytology test only takes a few minutes every three to five years but it is vital in protecting women, saving families from heartbreak and sometimes preventing avoidable deaths.”