Cervical Screenings

According to the latest statistics released by NHS Digital, cervical screening saw just over a 15% increase in 2021-2022 compared to the previous year. While this is a step in the right direction, there are still thousands of women who are missing out on this crucial service.

Here, we look at the latest data, who cervical screening is for, and why it is so important.

Cervical screenings rates rise, yet 3 in 10 are not adequately screened

Annual figures released by NHS Digital show that 3.5 million people aged 25-64 were treated by the Cervical Screening Programme in England during 2021-2022. This is an increase of 15.5%, up from 3.03 million the year prior.

NHS Digital has credited the rise in screenings to an increase in invitations being sent out, an increase in eligible population, and a catch-up from the COVID pandemic backlog. Out of everyone who was screened, a total of 235,000 women were referred to undergo a colonoscopy, which is a 33.2% increase on the previous year.

Although there are more patients undergoing screening, 3 in 10 people are currently inadequately screened. The age group reporting the biggest shortfall in screening in England were women aged 25-29.

Result turnaround times falling short

It isn’t just getting women screened that poses an issue. Result times are also falling short of where they should be. According to national standards, 98% of women should have their test results within two weeks. However, in 2021-2022, 80% of patients received results in this time period.

Waiting times for results different by region, with those in the south-east region receiving the fastest results. Those in the West Midlands had to wait the longest.

Who should undergo cervical screenings?

Cervical screening, also referred to as a SMEAR test, should be undertaken by premenopausal women, and anyone who is sexually active.

The test largely aims to identify HPV (Human Papillomavirus), an infection that develops through skin-to-skin contact. Even those who have had very few sexual partners are still likely to develop the virus at some time in their lives. In most cases, it is completely harmless. However, it can develop into various types of cancers, including cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is extremely difficult to detect in its early stages as it doesn’t typically produce any symptoms. That is why screening regularly is crucial. Attending cervical screening appointments gives you the best chance of identifying cervical cancer early.

Keep in mind that if HPV is detected during screening, it does not mean that you have cancer.

At SureScan, we know cervical screening can be daunting and many women can feel embarrassed. Our friendly experts will help to make the experience as quick and painless as possible. Undergoing cervical screening is crucial, and could potentially save your life.