Women are sharing selfies with smeared lipstick on social media to raise awareness of the importance of getting tested for cervical cancer.
Celebrities including model and socialite Tamara Ecclestone, former I’m A Celebrity! star Rebekah Vardy and ex-Emmerdale actress Gaynor Faye have joined in to support the #SmearForSmear campaign.
Yet the number of women attending potentially life-saving smear tests is falling, figures show.
One in three 25 to 29-year-olds do not take up their test invites, according to Jo’s Trust, which started the campaign.
The charity, which supports women with cervical cancer, says screening prevents three out of four cases.
It carried out a survey that found women are snubbing the tests because they are embarrassed about their bodies.
Loose Women presenters Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams have attempted to combat this by sharing their worst/funniest smear stories in a Twitter clip.
Socialite Tamara Ecclestone is supporting Jo’s Trust’s #SmearForSmear campaign
Rebekah Vardy, wife of England striker Jamie Vardy is helping raise awareness too
Great British Bake Off finalist Kate Lyon shared a selfie on Instagram
WHO CAN HAVE A SMEAR TEST
All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening:
- Aged 25 to 49 – every 3 years
- Aged 50 to 64 – every 5 years
- Over 65 – only women who haven’t been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests
Fears their vaginas aren’t ‘normal deterring women
Some 31 per cent of women admitted they don’t have a smear test if their bikini areas were hairy, while 34 per cent do so over fears of how their private parts appear.
Body shape and not smelling ‘normal’ were other reasons given, the poll of 2,000 women aged 25-35 found.
One in four eligible women (aged 25-64) do not currently take up their invitation for a smear test, rising to one in three among 25-29 year olds.
Olympic skier Chemmy Alcott posted to make women aware of the risks of ignoring a smear test invite
Model Rachel Perera shares a snap to urge women to book their smear tests
Loose Women presenters Nadia Sawalha and Kaye Adams have shared their worst/funniest smear stories in a Twitter video
It is even as high as one in two in some areas of the UK.
Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in women under 35 and around 3,000 cases are diagnosed each year in the UK.
It’s possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, although the condition mainly affects sexually active women aged 30 to 45. The condition is very rare in women under 25.
This woman, a cervical cancer survivor, took to Facebook to highlight the awareness week
Many women who have had abnormal cells found in their cervix through a smear test have posted to sharing their gratitude that they were found in time
One in three 25 to 29-year-olds do not take up their test invites, according to Jo’s Trust
YouTuber Becky Sheeran reminds us that a test ‘takes just seconds and could save your life’
Robert Music, Chief Executive Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, said: ‘Smear tests prevent 75% of cervical cancers so it is a big worry that so many young women, those who are most at risk of the disease, are unaware of the importance of attending.
‘It is of further concern that body worries are contributing to non attendance. Please don’t let unhappiness or uncertainty about your body stop you from attending what could be a life-saving test.
‘Nurses are professionals who carry out millions of tests every year, they can play a big part in ensuring women are comfortable.’
#SmearForSmear 2018 takes place next week from Monday 22 to Sunday 28 January during Cervical Cancer Prevention Week.
WHAT IS A SMEAR TEST?
Cervical screening isn’t a test for cancer, it’s a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix.
Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for around one in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Most of these changes won’t lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own.
But in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be removed so they can’t become cancerous.
Screening is usually carried out by the practice nurse at your GP clinic. You can ask to have a female doctor or nurse.
If possible, try to book an appointment during the middle of your menstrual cycle (usually 14 days from the start of your last period), as this can ensure a better sample of cells is taken.
It’s best to make your appointment for when you don’t have your period.
If you use a spermicide, a barrier method of contraception or a lubricant jelly, you shouldn’t use these for 24 hours before the test, as the chemicals they contain may affect the test.
Source: NHS Choices