Catching cancer early via screening can save lives
Women in the Bristol area are failing to keep their smear test appointments, putting themselves at risk of cervical cancer going undiagnosed.
After Jade Goody died from cervical cancer in 2009, there was a brief rise in the number of women going for tests.
But this was short-lived and the number of women ignoring reminders has increased over the last five years.
During Cervical Cancer Prevention week (24-30 January) women are being urged to get screened and not be complacent.
Abbie Moore from Hanham discovered she had cervical cancer in 2007 after her mother suggested she had a smear test in the wake of publicity surrounding Jade Goody.
"You just think 'I've got cancer'. I was hoping to have a family sometime soon and all these things get put out of the window. And you think: perhaps I'm not even going to reach 30.
"One option was a hysterectomy but, wanting a family, I didn't really want that. So I had keyhole surgery on my lymph glands to check that the cancer hadn't spread and luckily enough it hadn't.
"That was my results in September and by Christmas I fell pregnant and now I've got a little girl, Millie."
Abbie had ignored reminders from the Primary Care Trust (PCT) until she was 28 years old.
"I was one of those people who didn't want to have a test," she said.
"It's 10 minutes that are not pleasant but it can save your life."
Ardiana Gjini, Consultant in Public Health for PCTs in the former Avon area, says younger women (between 25 and 40) are most likely to put off having a smear test, and they are most at risk.
"We're urging women that - no matter how busy their lives might be with family and work - please, if you get a screening invitation, respond to it," she said
"Pick up the phone and make an appointment."