Women and people with a cervix in Leeds are being urged to continue taking part in cervical screening.
Cancer Wise Leeds, a programme funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and delivered in partnership with Leeds Cancer Programme, is working with GP practices across the city to ensure women are not put off attending appointments due to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the past 12 months, participation in cervical screening has declined. Recent data shows that participation in screening across Leeds has dropped to 70.5%¹. This is a 2.9% drop from February 2020.
The decrease in coverage means that approximately 6,500 fewer women in Leeds were screened between February 2020 and February 2021.
A spokesperson for Cancer Wise Leeds said: “Cervical screening helps save lives by preventing cancer. Participation in this important service was already very low in some parts of Leeds before the pandemic, so we’re now extremely concerned about the impact the decline will have on the lives of women in the city.
“We want to reinforce the message that it is vitally important and very safe to attend appointments when invited. Although Covid-19 restrictions are now being eased, the protective measures introduced at GP practices earlier in the pandemic will remain in place.”
Cervical screening can prevent cervical cancer by spotting abnormal changes and treating them early. The test first checks for human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes almost all cervical cancers. If HPV is found, the sample is then checked for any cell changes. Not all cell changes develop into cervical cancer, but it is important to monitor and treat these changes if needed.
Women should take part in cervical screening even if they are not sexually active or have had the HPV vaccine. This also applies to trans men and non-binary people with a cervix.
More information about cervical screening and the safety precautions in place during appointments can be viewed by watching a video produced by the Cancer Wise Leeds team.
Women in Leeds experiencing discomfort or symptoms of cervical cancer should seek urgent advice from their doctor’s surgery or call 111.
Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer include:
- abnormal bleeding during sex, between periods or after the menopause
- discomfort during sex
- back pain
- unusual cervical discharge
¹ Open Exeter February 2021