Health bosses share tips to avoid ‘smear fear’ concerns

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The NHS campaign
HEALTH bosses have shared tips to avoid 'smear fear' in a bid to reassure and encourage women to attend their cervical screening appointments.

Nervousness, embarrassment and anxiety are among the reasons almost one in three fail to attend their routine appointment for a smear test – a vital check for cervical cancer.

Concern about the procedure is a common cause of ‘smear fear’ and the theme of a recent national awareness campaign, which aims to reassure women and offer tips to help overcome worries.

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Dr Steph Edgar, GP and clinical lead for South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw Cancer Alliance, said: “We understand that people invited for a smear test often go through a range of emotions and find reasons not to book or attend for an appointment.

“But there is a wealth of information available about what to expect during the screening procedure and how to prepare for it, not only by talking to your GP or practice nurses, but also by listening and talking to others through support groups, online forums and blogs, to hopefully help quell people’s fears.”

Cervical cancer screening is offered to anyone with a cervix aged 25-64, including women, some trans men and some non-binary people who were assigned female at birth.

Screening tests cells for human papillomavirus which has potential to cause cell changes in the cervix, which may lead to cervical cancer over time.

Dr Edgar added: “It’s so important for people to book and keep their appointments when invited as screening helps to save around 5,000 lives a year.”

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