Wigan women urged to get tested amid North West's higher cervical cancer rates
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However, despite the stark difference to the national average, almost one in three women aged 25 to 49 do not attend screening appointments when invited, meaning potentially harmful changes may not be picked up and treated early.
North West Cancer Research is now urging women to get screened and avoid leaving their risk of developing the disease to chance.
As part of the Don’t Keep ‘Em Crossed campaign, the charity is taking over Manchester Piccadilly railway station today with the installation of crossed mannequin legs, encouraging passers-by to stop and think about their next cervical screening.
All women and people with cervixes aged 25 to 64 are invited to cervical screenings – or smear test – to check the health of their cervix and a small sample of cells are taken for analysis.
Depending on the results, they may be asked to attend for further tests or, if all samples are normal, they will be invited for their next smear test in three years.
In the North West, cervical cancer rates are 19 per cent higher than the rest of England, with Lancashire recording the region’s highest rate – 32 per cent higher than the national average.
Alastair Richards, CEO of North West Cancer Research, said: “Overall, our rates of cervical cancer are higher than the average in England and this needs to be addressed. It is a pattern we see across a number of different cancers in terms of our region having higher rates and, while there is no ‘quick fix’ to this issue, there are ways individuals can protect themselves.
“For example, attending your cervical screening stands you in good stead to prevent cancer from developing and, if needed, undergo appropriate treatment early, therefore increasing your chances of survival.
“That’s what our latest campaign is all about – don’t leave it to chance, get screened instead.”