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Petition to have the name of ‘smear test’ changed was rejected

Katherine Sidnell

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Petition to have the name of ‘smear test’ changed was rejected

Featured Image Credit: Golib Tolibov/ Daria Artemenko / Alamy Stock Photo

A petition to rename smear tests has been rejected by the British Government, despite concerns about the lack of people being screened.

It had been hoped that the change in name would have encouraged more people with a cervix to be checked, as screenings fell to an all time low before the pandemic.

There have been calls to change the name of smear tests after a drop in attendance. Credit: Golib Golib Tolibov/Alamy Stock Photo
There have been calls to change the name of smear tests after a drop in attendance. Credit: Golib Golib Tolibov/Alamy Stock Photo

In some areas, it was reported less than 50% of people who were eligible had the potentially lifesaving exam.

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Despite this and extensive public awareness campaign by the NHS in 2019, the government still rejected the petition to change the name of smear tests earlier this month.

It’s not first cervical cancer related petition, which has been vetoed by parliament.

Other campaigns calling for reducing the age limit of screening have also been refused, in spite of pressure from cervical cancer charities such as Jo’s Trust.

With one in three people still declining smear tests, the organisation have run their own awareness campaign this week dedicated to the disease.

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According to the charity’s research, an estimated seven out of ten cases of cervical cancer are caught by regular screening.

However, many are still hesitant to be checked with several people citing the examination’s name as a factor on social media.

It's important to make sure you attend regular smear tests. Credit: Daria Artemenko/Alamy Stock Photo
It's important to make sure you attend regular smear tests. Credit: Daria Artemenko/Alamy Stock Photo

Though the tweet is tongue in cheek, it raises an important issue for those attending screenings.

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While the reasons for not attending are multi-faceted, including embarrassment, fear and religious reasons, smear test numbers are beginning to increase following the pandemic.

In their latest data, the NHS reported a 15.5% increase in cervical cancer screenings last year with an estimated 3.5 million people tested.

However, with only 69% of people being checked, it’s still not enough to prevent cases of the life-threatening disease.

In a previous statement, the former Chief Executive of Jo’s Trust, Robert Music, urged people to be screened whenever possible.

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"We know attending screening isn't always easy for a wide range of reasons, yet cervical screening can be lifesaving as it can detect changes in the cervix before they become cancerous." he told the press.

Currently, people aged 25-49 should be screened every three years, with exams every five years for those over 50 but many do not attend at the specified time.

Another way to help prevent cervical cancer is to be vaccinated against the HPV virus. Credit: Manjurul Haque/Alamy Stock Photo
Another way to help prevent cervical cancer is to be vaccinated against the HPV virus. Credit: Manjurul Haque/Alamy Stock Photo

The NHS remains keen to reach its target of 80% smear test attendance, despite the current crisis in the health service.

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It's hoped that this will reduce the number of people who die annually from the disease.

Currently, there are at least two deaths per day from cervical cancer and it results in an estimated 850 lives being lost per year.

While it may take some time to achieve this figure, Jo’s Trust has continued to educate the public on cervical cancer by focusing on its main cause: the HPV virus.

They also encourage people to be aware of symptoms such as bleeding between periods or during sex.

Other common symptoms can include post-menopausal bleeding, unusual discharge and pain during intercourse.

Topics: NHS, Health

Katherine Sidnell
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