Test warning as cancer cases rise

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NEW figures reveal the shocking number of Wigan women who are dying of cervical cancer.

In the last five years 30 women have died as a result of cervical cancer - all of them aged 30 or over.

But today health bosses in Wigan are urging women who get invited for their first smear test at the age of 25, to take up the opportunity.

The proportion of eligible women (aged 25 to 64) who have attended for screening at least once in the last five years has dropped and is now at 79.9 per cent. It reached a peak of 80.5 per cent in mid- 2010 following the death of Big Brother housemate Jade Goody.

Of the 30 women who died, one third were aged 80 and above, one third were 55 to 79 and one third 30 to 54.

In 2009, there were eight deaths from cervical cancer whereas in 2008, there were four deaths and in 2007, just two deaths.

Health chiefs say there is no significant trend in Wigan based on the latest figures but on the whole, the borough has a lower mortality rate than the North West but has a higher average than that across England.

A spokesman for Ashton, Wigan and Leigh Primary Care Trust said: “We strongly advise women to take part in the screening programme when they are first invited at the age of 25.

“Although the attendance for screening reached a peak during 2010 following the death of Jade Goody, we are trying to get the proportion back up again.”

June 6 to 12 is Cervical Screening Awareness Week which sees the launch of the Eve Appeal, and as most cases of cervical cancer can be prevented, health chiefs are hoping more women come forward to be screened.

Television doctor, Dr Hilary Jones is backing the campaign.

He said: “I fully endorse The Eve Appeal’s campaign to break down the wall of embarrassment that seems to be preventing some women from attending cervical screening when invited.

“We hope that though the work of organisations like The Eve Appeal, women will learn and understand more about all gynaecological cancers and feel able to discuss ‘matters down below’ more openly.”