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MP supports campaign to increase number of women attending cervical screening appointments

Winchester’s MP is behind a major new national campaign which aims to increase the number of women attending their cervical screening appointments. Steve Brine, who is the Public Health Minister, is spearheading the effort which will encourage women to respond to their invitation, and if they missed their last screening, to book an appointment at their GP practice. Around 2,600 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in England each year, and around 690 women die from the disease. It is estimated that if everyone attended screening regularly, 83% of cervical cancer cases could be prevented. New research from Public Health England shows that screening rates are at a 20-year low, with 1 in 4 eligible women (those aged 25 to 64) in the UK not attending their test. The new campaign provides practical information about how to make the test more comfortable, and gives reassurance to women, who may be fearful of finding out they have cancer, that cervical screening is not a test for cancer but for abnormal cells or the HPV virus allowing for preventative action to be taken. Steve Brine, Public Health Minister said: “It is a tragedy that women are needlessly dying of cancer when a simple test can identify any risks early on. We hope this new campaign - the first of its kind in this country - will save lives and I am very proud to be leading this on behalf of the Government. Regular screening, which only takes a few minutes, can help stop cervical cancer before it starts and that’s the aim here. “Improving cancer detection and diagnosis is a core part of our Long Term Plan for the NHS backed by record increases in funding.” Professor Anne Mackie, Director of Screening Programmes at PHE said: “The decline in numbers getting screened for cervical cancer is a major concern as it means millions of women are missing out on a potentially life-saving test. Two women die every day in England from cervical cancer, yet it is one of the most preventable cancers if caught early. “We want to see a future generation free of cervical cancer but we will only achieve our vision if women take up their screening invitations. This is a simple test which takes just five minutes and could save your life. It’s just not worth ignoring.” TV presenter Christine Lampard added: “I can’t say I’m thrilled when my cervical screening invite is posted through my door, but I know how important it is that I get tested. It’s an awkward five minutes that could save your life!

“As a mother, I will never ignore my screening invitation and when my daughter, Patsy, is old enough, I‘ll encourage her to attend her screenings too. As women we should talk positively about our bodies and the importance of cervical screening – it’s an important way to protect our health.” The campaign is also being supported by charities, including Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust. Activity includes new advertising on TV and other channels, together with the cascade of information through GP surgeries and pharmacies. Pictured: Steve Brine with Rob Music of Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust at the House of Commons.

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