WOMEN across Dorset are being urged to have cervical screening as statistics show the uptake in the county is low.

All women aged between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical screening as part of the NHS cervical screening programme.

This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week

Regular screening looks at any changes in the cells of the cervix, so that abnormalities can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.

It is estimated that early detection and treatment can prevent up to 75 percent of cervical cancers. 

Clare Simpson, screening lead, for NHS Wessex, said: “The cervical screening programme is very effective at reducing cases of cervical cancer. Through screening we are able to detect cell changes early, that if left untreated, might go on to develop into cancer.

“We really want to stress how important it is to go for screening when you receive your invite. Not going for screening is the biggest risk factor in developing cervical cancer.

“So screening for all women aged between 25 and 64 is very important.”

About 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK; this number is low because of the success of cervical screening on the prevention of cervical cancer developing.

A new report suggests the NHS could save almost £10m a year if it increased the number of women who have smear tests.

The authors of the report are calling for the introduction of ‘on the spot’ smear tests so women can be offered screening during another appointment and over the tendency to ‘put it off’.

The NHS spends £21m a year treating cervical cancer patients, but if all women were screened regularly this would drop to £12.1m, research suggests.

The report's author Jo Salter, a researcher at Demos, said: ''With cervical cancer, the stakes are so high - both cost and health-wise - but in many cases it can be avoided through screening. So it is worrying that so many women are currently ignoring their screening invitations.

''We know that many obstacles stand in the way of cervical screening - nervousness, embarrassment, lack of time, lack of knowledge, overwhelmed services, and a feeling of 'it will never happen to me'. It is crucial that these obstacles are removed, making it as easy as possible for women to make cervical screening part of their regular routine, as a smart, precautionary measure.''

Robert Music, chief executive of Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: ''The results of this report clearly highlight the urgent need to find ways to encourage more women to attend screening.

''By making a small investment in targeted prevention campaigns now we could not only save millions of pounds for the state but also prevent many more women from enduring the devastating long term implications of treatment as well as save lives altogether.

''We sincerely hope that cervical cancer prevention can be given greater priority at policy level. If the recommendations in this report can be taken forward, we may start to see a future where cervical cancer becomes a disease of the past.''