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Women with learning difficulties urged to have cancer screening

Women with learning difficulties urged to have cancer screening

The NHS in Wokingham is encouraging women with learning difficulties to take up their invites for cervical screening, after research showed a large part of the community were not getting the test, during Cervical Cancer Awareness Week 12 - 18 June.

Every day 9 women in the UK are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3 women will lose their lives to the disease, while it is the most common cancer in women under 35 it is largely preventable thanks to cervical screening and the HPV vaccination programme.

Locally in Wokingham, statistics show that just 27% of eligible women aged 25- 34 years old with a learning disability received cervical cancer screening, whereas more than 75% of eligible women without a learning disability received the test in the year 2015/2016.

Nationally, in England fewer than 1 in 3 women eligible for the test with a learning disability received cervical cancer screening, whereas 3 in 4 eligible females without a learning disability received the test.

Dr Johan Zylstra, Chair of the Wokingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Governing Body, said: “The proportion of women with Learning Difficulties who get the test to check the health of the cells of the cervix is very low compared to the wider population, and we are working to combat this.

“It is really important for women with Learning Difficulties to attend cervical screening as it can detect pre-cancer abnormalities, which, if left untreated, may develop into cancer. We are also encouraging their friends and loved ones to encourage and support them to get the test done”

Wokingham CCG is supporting European Cervical Cancer Awareness Week which runs from June 12-18. The week aims to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening and its role in preventing cancer, as well as encouraging women with Learning Difficulties to go for their screening test when invited. An Easy Read leaflet for people with Learning Difficulties on the screening test is available here.

The CCG is encouraging employers to sign up to the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust ‘Time to Test’ pledge at www.jostrust.org.uk demonstrating commitment to raising awareness of cervical cancer prevention in the workplace and ensuring female employees can access cervical screening.

ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • This week is Cervical Screening Awareness Week. It aims to raise awareness of cervical cancer and how it can be prevented.
  • Throughout the week Berkshire West CCGs will be using social media channels to raise awareness of the facts around cervical cancer and the screening programme including reaching out to women who are entering the screening programme for the first time.
  • Cervical screening is offered to all women aged 25 to 64 years old, with women aged 25 to 49 screened three yearly and women aged 50 to 64 screened every five years.
  • The HPV vaccine is given to girls at school when they reach 12 and 13. It is still important for women who have been vaccinated to practice safe sex and to take up screening when they reach 25 (the vaccination was introduced in the 1990’s)
  • The NHS screening programme aims to screen 80% of the target population, to offer the greatest protection against cervical cancer. In the South East of England coverage last year was on average 74.3%.
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