WOMEN across the district are being urged to attend cervical screening appointments.

Health chiefs have issued the plea – ahead of Cervical Cancer Prevention Week – after it was revealed that nearly a third of women in Bradford district and Craven fail to take-up the offer of a test.

As part of the NHS cervical screening programme, women aged 25 to 49 are invited for a smear test at their GP practice every three years, while those aged 50-64 receive an invitation at five-yearly intervals.

Cervical screening is moving to a test for the human papillomavirus (HPV) first.

In most cases, an HPV infection goes away without doing the body any harm. But sometimes it causes cells to change which, if not treated, could develop into cervical cancer. Testing for HPV is estimated to prevent almost 500 diagnoses of cervical cancer every year.

Dr Anne Connolly – GP and clinical lead for maternity, women’s health and sexual health for Bradford district and Craven clinical commissioning groups – said: “Many people worry about their cervical screening test, but it’s often reassuring to know that you are welcome to take a friend or relative along with you to your appointment.

“The nurses, GPs or contraception service who carry out the test are there to provide support and make it as easy as possible for you. They are happy to have a chat before you book your smear test to discuss any concerns or questions you may have.

“Cervical screening takes just a few minutes and is so important to help to spot any early signs of cancer.

“The symptoms of cervical cancer are not usually obvious and you may not get any signs until it’s reached an advanced stage. That’s why screening is one of the best ways to protect against the disease.

“It’s important to remember that you are still at risk of cervical cancer even if you have had the HPV vaccine, as it does not protect you from all types of HPV.

“Anybody with a cervix who had had any kind of sexual contact is at risk of cervical cancer, including those who are lesbian, bisexual or transgender.”

People can book an appointment for cervical screening through their GP practice. Appointments are available up to 9.30pm – they may be at the person’s usual practice or at another NHS service nearby.

Anyone who is overdue for a screening test or is unsure when it is due, can contact their GP surgery.

For further information about cervical screening, visit nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening.